Wednesday, April 17, 2024

Live Updates: Russia’s “Special Operation” in Ukraine; Day 14

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.

Ukraine claims 67 children killed since start of Russian invasion

Ukraine’s top security official Oleksiy Danilov claimed on Wednesday 67 children had been killed since the Russian invasion began on February 24, as he urged Kyiv’s allies to enforce a no-fly zone over the country.

Ukrainian official: 17 wounded by air strike on Mariupol children’s hospital

A Russian air strike on a children’s hospital in Mariupol has injured 17 people, according to preliminary figures, a local official stated.

“So far there are 17 wounded personnel of the hospital,” Pavlo Kyrylenko said in a video posted on Facebook.

He added that “so far no kids were wounded” and there have been “no deaths”.

US: Russia still has about “90% of their available combat power” ready to use in Ukraine

Russia has about “90% of their available combat power still ready for their use” in Ukraine, a senior US defense official told reporters on Wednesday.

The US assesses Russia no longer has “several hundred vehicles of different stripes and sizes” available to them, but the US does not know if those vehicles were captured, destroyed or abandoned, the official noted..

US & UK rule out no-fly zone again

The top diplomats from the UK and the US have again ruled out establishing a no-fly zone over Ukraine, even a limited one to protect humanitarian corridors.

“The reality is that setting up a no-fly zone would lead to a direct confrontation between NATO and Russia,” Liz Truss told reporters.

“And that is not what we are looking at. What we are looking at is making sure that the Ukrainians are able to defend their own country with the best possible selection of anti-tank weapons and anti-air defence systems,” she added.

Antony Blinken echoed Truss’s remarks, saying that Washington’s aim is to end the war, not expand it.

WHO: Many Ukraine health centers have been attacked causing deaths, injuries

Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the director general of the World Health Organization (WHO), stated on Wednesday that the organization has verified 18 attacks in Ukraine against health facilities, health workers and ambulances, with 10 deaths and 16 injuries.

US warns Russia may be using ‘dumb’ bombs in Ukraine war

The United States has seen indications that Russia’s military is bombing Ukraine using so-called “dumb” bombs that are not precision-guided and would have limited ability to hit targets precisely, a senior US defense official said on Wednesday.

“We do have indications that the Russians are in fact dropping some dumb munitions,” the official stated, speaking on condition of anonymity, adding that the United States was observing “increasing damage to civilian infrastructure and civilian casualties”.

The comments came shortly after Ukraine accused Russia of bombing a children’s hospital in the besieged port of Mariupol. Moscow denies targeting civilians.

Blinken says Kremlin proposals to create humanitarian corridors into Russia ‘absurd’

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Wednesday stated Russia’s proposals to create humanitarian corridors from Ukraine to Russia are “absurd” as he called for Russia to allow civilians in Ukraine to leave safely.

“It’s offensive to suggest the Ukrainian people should seek refuge from the very government that has demonstrated such disregard for their lives,” Blinken told reporters following his meeting with UK foreign secretary Liz Truss in Washington.

Blinken said he is “absolutely convinced that Vladimir Putin will fail and Russia will suffer a strategic defeat”.

“As we’ve said before, you can win a battle, but that doesn’t mean you win the war – on the contrary. You can take a city but you can’t take the hearts and minds of its people and Ukrainians are demonstrating that every single day,” he added.

Truss: Putin ‘not making progress he’d planned’

Russian President Vladimir Putin is “not making the progress he’d planned”, UK Foreign Secretary Liz Truss has said.

Speaking in a Washington press conference alongside US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, the foreign secretary stated, “We have surprised Putin with our unity and the toughness of our sanctions… the brave Ukrainian people have surprised him with their unity and… leadership.”

“Now is not the time to let up – Putin must fail”, Truss has continued, adding, “If we do not do enough now ‘other aggressors around the world will be emboldened.”

She said by “letting up” its efforts in helping Ukraine, the UK “would be sending a message that sovereign nations can be trampled on”.

“Since the end of the Cold War we took our eye off the ball”, she added.

She noted the UK will supply air defense systems to Ukraine.

Ukraine claims 1,170 civilians have been killed in Mariupol since Russian invasion

At least 1,170 civilians have been killed in Ukraine’s besieged city of Mariupol since the start of the Russian invasion, a Ukrainian state information agency announced on Wednesday, citing figures from Mariupol’s deputy mayor.

“At least 1,170 people have been killed and 47 were buried in a mass grave today,” deputy mayor Serhiy Orlov was quoted as saying.

“People are without water, heat, electricity, gas, residents are melting snow to drink,” Orlov added.

Local mayor: Russians forces regrouping near Kharkiv

Russian forces appear to be regrouping near Kharkiv, according to the northeastern city’s mayor.

Speaking on live television, Ihor Terekhov described the situation in the area as very tense and stated Russian shelling was continuing.

Ukraine: Russia largely failed to respect civilian evacuation plans

Ukrainian interior ministry adviser Vadym Denysenko has said that Russia has largely failed to respect agreements to allow civilians to be evacuated from towns and cities through humanitarian corridors.

Evacuations took place from the cities of Sumy and Enerhodar, but not from the regional capital of Kharkiv and only partially in areas in the Kyiv region, he added.

EU says Russia reports of biolabs in Ukraine likely disinformation

The European Union said on Wednesday it doubted the credibility of Russian government claims it had uncovered a military biological programme in Ukraine, adding that Moscow had a history of spreading disinformation about biological weapons.

“The credibility of information provided by Kremlin is in general very doubtful and low,” EU foreign affairs spokesman Peter Stano stated.

“Russian disinformation has a track record of promoting manipulative narratives about biological weapons and alleged ‘secret labs’,” he said, adding that the EU was not aware of any Ukrainian laboratories not in line with international law.

In recent days, Russia has accused Ukraine of having tried to develop biological or nuclear weapons. On Wednesday, the Kremlin said Washington must explain “Ukrainian biological weapons labs”.

A Ukrainian presidential spokesperson noted, “Ukraine strictly denies any such allegation.”

US says “majority” of Ukrainian air fleet “still intact and operable”

The “majority” of the Ukrainian air fleet is still “intact and operable”, a senior US defense official told reporters on Wednesday.

“They do have fixed-wing aircraft available to them, still the majority of their fleet is still intact and operable,” the official said, adding that the airspace over Ukraine remains “contested”.

The official stated the reason the airspace over Ukraine remains “contested” is because Ukraine’s air defense systems “remains viable” and “effective”.

The Russian Ministry of Defense claimed Wednesday that 90% of Ukrainian military airfields are now out of action.

US: Russia launched 710 missiles against Ukraine

Russia has launched 710 missiles against Ukraine since the start of the invasion, and Russian forces have gotten closer to the cities of Kharkiv and Mykolaiv, according to a senior US defense official.

Russian forces gained 20 km (or 12 miles) in the last day and are just outside Kharkiv now, said the official. Additionally, Russia is about 15 km (9 miles) to the north of Mykolaiv.

There have been “no significant movements” by Russian forces towards Kyiv or Chernihiv, though there continues to be “a lot of fighting” near Chernihiv, added the official.

UN says at least 500 people have been killed since Russian invasion of Ukraine began

At least 516 civilians have been killed in Ukraine since Russia began its invasion on Feb. 24, the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights said in its latest update on Wednesday.

About 908 civilians have also been injured, the UN added.

Zelensky accuses Russian forces of ‘direct strike’ on Mariupol hospital complex

Ukraine’s president has accused Russian forces of carrying out a “direct strike” on a hospital complex in Mariupol that reportedly houses maternity and children wards.

“People, children are under the wreckage,” Volodymyr Zelensky tweeted, calling the attack an “atrocity”.

“How much longer will the world be an accomplice ignoring terror? Close the sky right now! Stop the killings! You have power but you seem to be losing humanity,” he added.

Zelensky also shared footage from the scene of the alleged strike which appeared to show several wrecked rooms along a corridor in a building that had blown-out windows. Outside of the building, a square carpeted with rubble and debris could be seen.

Ukraine’s FM says Russia holding 400,000 people ‘hostage’ in Mariupol

Ukraine’s foreign minister has accused Russia of holding more than 400,000 people hostage in Mariupol.

“Indiscriminate shelling continues,” Dmytro Kuleba tweeted, adding that nearly 3,000 newborn babies currently lack medicine and food.

He went on to reiterate earlier calls for foreign intervention to end Russia’s offensive, which has seen Moscow’s forces pound Mariupol with aerial attacks.

Conditions in the city are reportedly desperate, with water, power and heating supplies all cut off.

Several attempts in recent days to establish humanitarian corridors through which citizens can safely be evacuated have failed.

Mariupol city council claims children’s hospital destroyed by Russian bombing

A children’s hospital in Mariupol has been destroyed by Russian air raids, according to the city council.

“The Russian occupying forces have dropped several bombs on the children’s hospital. The destruction is colossal,” the council claimed.

It did not provide any information about possible casualties.

Russia claims 90% of Ukraine’s military airports containing majority of its air force knocked out

90 percent of Ukraine’s military aerodromes containing the majority of the country’s Air Force have been knocked out of operation, and part of its fleet of aircraft has flown to Romania and is not taking part in any combat, Russian Defence Ministry spokesperson Igor Konashenkov has claimed.

“At the start of the special operation, the Ukrainian Air Force had as many as 250 serviceable combat aircraft and helicopters. Russia’s Aerospace Fores have destroyed 89 combat aircraft and 57 helicopters on the ground and in the air,” Konashenkov added.

Ukraine’s Air Force has also nearly completely run out of first and second class military pilots, and is limiting flights to individual attempts to mount missions, according to Konashenkov.

Russia has destroyed 81 radar stations from Ukraine’s air defence troops, causing a loss of battlefield control and a dramatic deterioration in the country’s air defence capabilities, which have been reduced to only a local capability to resist, the MoD spokesman noted.

Russian forces have destroyed a total of 2,786 pieces of Ukrainian military infrastructure since the start of the operation, Konashenkov said.

49 facilities, among them two command and control points, six air defence systems, four caches of ammunition and fuel, and 37 areas of concentration of military equpment were destroyed in the course of operations Wednesday, he continued.

The MoD spokesman stated Ukrainian losses include 953 tanks and other armoured vehicles, 101 rocket artillery systems, 351 pieces of artillery and mortar systems, 718 military vehicles, and 93 drones.

He also indicated that 137 Ukrainian S-125, S-300 and Buk-M1 air defence systems had been destroyed, with these losses constituting over 90 percent of Ukraine’s air defence systems.

Russia acknowledges conscripts deployed to Ukraine

Russia’s Defence Ministry has acknowledged that some conscripts have participated in the war in Ukraine days after President Vladimir Putin denied that was the case.

The defence ministry announced that some of the conscripts had been taken prisoner by Ukrainian forces. But it claimed that “practically all” such individuals deployed to neighbouring Ukraine had now been pulled back to Russia.

All Russian men aged 18-27 must by law do a year’s military service, although there are some exceptions to that rule.

Putin stated earlier this week that only professional soldiers and officers had been deployed as part of Moscow’s offensive.

Report: Mariupol dead being buried in mass grave

Local authorities in Mariupol are burying their dead in a mass grave, the Associated Press has reported.

With the city under steady bombardment, officials had been waiting for a chance to allow individual burials to resume. But with morgues overflowing, and many corpses uncollected at home, they decided they had to take action.

A deep trench some 25 meters (80 feet) long has been opened in one of the city’s old cemeteries in the heart of the city, according to the AP. Social workers brought 30 bodies wrapped in carpets or bags on Wednesday, after 40 were brought on Tuesday.

The dead include civilian victims of shelling on the city as well as some soldiers. Workers with the municipal social services have also been collecting bodies from homes, including some civilians who died of disease or natural causes.

No mourners were present and no families said their goodbyes, AP reported.

Ukrainians say evacuation convoy blocked

The city council of Bucha, just north of Kyiv, has accused Russian forces of blocking the evacuation of people through an agreed evacuation corridor.

“The occupants are disrupting the evacuation. Currently, 50 buses are blocked by Russian military in the parking lot: do not give passage to the column,” the city council said in a brief Facebook post.

“Negotiations are ongoing to unlock traffic.” “We remind you that the “green corridor” was an agreement at the highest level,” it added.

Ukraine claims Russian shelling disrupts evacuation of Izyum

A planned evacuation of civilians from the Ukrainian town of Izyum in the eastern Kharkiv region has been held up by Russian shelling, according to the region’s governor.

An evacuation route from Izyum to Lozova was one of the six humanitarian corridors announced by Kyiv earlier on Wednesday, but Oleh Synehubov said buses were still waiting at the entrance to the town and hence had not been able to ferry people out.

He added that negotiations with the Russians were under way with the support of the Red Cross.

UK sending Ukraine more anti-tank weapons to defend against Russian troops

Britain is increasing its supply of weapons systems to Ukraine in “response to further acts of aggression by Russia”, UK Defence Minister Ben Wallace said Wednesday.

Britain has now supplied 3,615 anti-tank weapons to Ukraine, and will also shortly be supplying a small consignment of Javelin anti-tank missiles, he told lawmakers in parliament.

Wallace added the “initial supply was to be 2,000 New Light anti-tank weapons, small arms and ammunition”, but that has been increased and the UK will continue to deliver more.

“We will shortly be starting the delivery of small consignment of anti-tank Javelin missiles,” he said adding that all weapons are considered to be “defensive systems”, and are “calibrated not to escalate to a strategic level”.

The UK is also considering supplying Ukraine with Starstreak high velocity anti-air missiles in response to their request. The ministry of defence believes that this system “will remain within the definition of defensive weapons, but will allow the accredit force to better defend their skies”.

Russia has only been successful in one of its original objectives in Ukraine, according to UK intelligence and failed to take out Ukrainian air defenses, Wallace continued.

“The Ukrainian armed forces have put up a strong defense while mobilizing the whole population. President Putin’s arrogant assumption that he would be welcomed as the Liberator has deservedly crumbled as far as his troops morale,” he added.

UN nuclear watchdog says Chernobyl power cut has no critical impact on safety

The loss of power at the Chernobyl plant does not have any critical impact on safety at the site, the UN’s nuclear watchdog announced.

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) tweeted that the “heat load of spent fuel storage pool and volume of cooling water at Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant [are] sufficient for effective heat removal without [the] need for electrical supply”.

Dutch PM says ‘not possible’ for EU to cut off Russian energy supplies immediately

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte has said it is not possible for the EU to immediately cut off Russian supplies of oil and gas to the bloc.

“We have to discuss our vulnerabilities in terms of our dependency on Russian oil and Russian gas. I would not plead for cutting off our supply of oil and gas from Russia today; it’s not possible because we need the supply and that is the uncomfortable truth”, Rutte stated during a joint press conference with French President Emmanuel Macron in Paris.

“But we can do more to get the green agenda going, to decarbonise our economies”, he added.

G7 energy ministers to hold emergency meeting on 10 March

The energy ministers of the G7 countries will hold an emergency meeting on Thursday due to rising energy prices, UK Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Kwasi Kwarteng stated.

Earlier, Kwarteng noted that the UK would stop importing Russian oil and oil products by the end of 2022.

According to him, 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.

German chancellor: No fighter jets will be sent to Ukraine

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said that Berlin would continue financial support for Ukraine, but “no fighter jets” would be delivered.

“We have organized support, as you know, it is about financial assistance that we started many years ago to strengthen the stability of the Ukrainian economy. We have continued this now in a crisis, there is a lot of financial support, we have launched humanitarian efforts, provided all possible military supplies, and as you know, a separate weapon that we informed about,” the chancellor stated at a briefing in Berlin when asked whether Berlin supported the delivery of MiG-29 fighters from Poland to Ukraine, and whether they were ready to provide a military base in Ramstein for this.

He added that “in addition, we must decide very precisely what exactly we are doing, obviously, no fighters jets belong to this”.

Canada sending additional C$50m worth of defence aid to Ukraine

Canada is sending an additional 50 million Canadian dollars ($39 million) worth of defence aid to Ukraine, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said.

“Today I can announce an additional 50 million dollars worth of equipment that we will be sending towards Ukraine to help out,” Trudeau added at a joint press conference with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz.

EU tells citizens to lower heating

The European Union’s (EU) High Representative for Foreign Policy Josep Borrell has asked citizens to turn down the heating in their homes, as one way for the bloc to cut its dependence on Russian gas amid the ongoing conflict in Ukraine.

“The challenges we face are going to require a very tough stance and we have to be willing to pay the price,” Borrell stated, suggesting, “European citizens lower the heating of their homes,” as part of their “individual effort to cut gas consumption.”

Russia’s ruble continues its slide as new curbs restrict access to foreign currency

Russia’s currency continued its descent on Wednesday as trading in the ruble was restarted on the Moscow Exchange. But in an effort to stanch the currency’s decline, the Russian central bank issued an order further restricting access to US dollars.

The Central Bank of Russia said owners of foreign-currency accounts in Russian banks will be allowed to withdraw only up to $10,000 in dollars (regardless of the currency in the account), and the rest would have to be taken out in rubles.

New foreign-currency accounts can be opened, but only rubles will be permitted to be withdrawn. The order will be in place until Sept. 9, the central bank added. Until then, banks cannot sell foreign currency to Russians either.

Kyiv calls for ceasefire amid efforts to restore power at Chernobyl

Ukraine’s foreign minister has called on Russia to urgently observe a temporary ceasefire in order to allow work to take place to restore power to the defunct Chernobyl nuclear power plant, saying radiation could be leaked if an electricity outage at the site continues.

“Reserve diesel generators have a 48-hour capacity to power the Chornobyl NPP. After that, cooling systems of the storage facility for spent nuclear fuel will stop, making radiation leaks imminent,” Dmytro Kuleba tweeted.

Radioactive substances could be released from Chernobyl after power switched off

Radioactive substances could be released from Ukraine’s Chernobyl nuclear power plant after its power connection was severed, Ukraine’s state-run nuclear company Energoatom has said.

Work to repair the connection and restore power to the plant, which has been occupied by Russian troops, has not been possible because fighting is under way, it added.

Ukraine has claimed that the power cut could affect the cooling system, though this remains unclear.

Egypt gas sector hopes Russia-Ukraine war will boost its exports to Europe

Egyptian petroleum and gas experts, closely following the ongoing Russian invasion of Ukraine and the possible disruption of Russian gas supplies to Europe, have expressed hopes that the situation will create more demand for Egyptian gas in Europe.

Poland: Any decision on jets must be taken by all NATO

Any decision to give fighter jets to Ukraine must be taken jointly by all NATO countries, Poland’s prime minister has said during a visit to the Austrian capital Vienna.

“We did not agree to supply planes by ourselves, because it must be the decision of the whole of NATO,” Mateusz Morawiecki added.

Russia: World would like to know what US biolabs in Ukraine were doing

The Kremlin hopes that efforts to shed light on the operation of US laboratories in Ukraine will be successful. The whole world would like to know what exactly they were doing there, presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on Wednesday.

“This issue is of great importance, of course. Possibly, it is important to the whole world. It is to be hoped that it will be possible to shed light on the activity of these facilities in Ukraine, which in fact were run by US specialists,” Peskov continued, adding, “Apparently, the whole world would like to have an idea what these facilities’ tasks were.”

EU slaps fourth round of sanctions on Russia targeting oligarchs & politicians

The European Union has approved a fourth round of sanctions against Russia for its invasion of Ukraine that includes another 160 oligarchs, Russian politicians and three Belarusian banks, the President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen stated Wednesday.

“We are further tightening the net of sanctions responding to Russia’s military aggression against Ukraine,” von der Leyen wrote on Twitter.

Russia: Upcoming meeting of Lavrov, Kuleba in Turkey is ‘very important’

The upcoming meeting between Russian and Ukrainian foreign ministers Sergey Lavrov and Dmitry Kuleba in Turkey is crucial for the negotiating process between Moscow and Kiev, Kremlin Spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters on Wednesday.

Moscow is interested in holding the next rounds of talks with Kiev as soon as Ukraine is ready, Peskov stated.

Spokeswoman for Russian Foreign Ministry Maria Zakharova noted at a briefing on Wednesday Moscow expects a more substantial step forward during the next rounds of talks with Kiev.

Kremlin: Kiev’s use of foreign aerodromes seen as potentially dangerous scenario

Ukraine’s possible use of military aerodromes in other countries is an unwanted and a potentially dangerous scenario, Russian presidential press secretary Dmitry Peskov told journalists on Wednesday.

“The defense ministry has already provided an explanation about [Ukraine’s] possible use of some other aerodromes for the sorties of warplanes. It is an unwanted and a potentially dangerous scenario,” he stated.

Moscow: Russia controls nuclear facilities in Ukraine to prevent provocations

Russia took control over a number of nuclear facilities in Ukraine to prevent nuclear provocations on the part of militants, this threat does actually exist, Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said at a briefing on Wednesday.

“During the special operation by the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation, control was established over the Chernobyl and Zaporozhye nuclear power plants and adjacent territories. This move was undertaken exclusively to prevent Ukrainian nationalist and other terrorist formations as well as foreign mercenaries from taking advantage of the situation that shaped in the country to organize nuclear provocations, and these risks really exist,” the diplomat added.

Kuleba cool on expectations ahead of talks with Lavrov

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba has said he has limited expectations for planned talks with his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov.

Kuleba confirmed in a video statement that the pair would hold discussions in Turkey on Thursday and urged Lavrov to approach the talks “in good faith, not from a propagandistic perspective”.

“But I will say frankly that my expectations of the talks are low,” he continued, adding, “We are interested in a ceasefire, liberating our territories and the third point is to resolve all humanitarian issues.”

Russia says it boycotted ICJ hearing because of ‘absurd’ lawsuit

Russia’s Foreign Ministry has said Moscow boycotted a hearing this week at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) over a lawsuit brought by Ukraine because of the “absurdity” of the case.

Ukraine on Monday requested the UN’s top court order Russia to halt its offensive, arguing Moscow had wrongly tried to justify its invasion on false assertions.

The ICJ, based in The Hague, has announced it will rule on the case “as soon as possible”.

Russia is not expected to comply with any decision ordering it to stop its attack.

Canada to send shipment of highly-specialized military equipment to Ukraine

Canada plans to send another shipment of highly-specialized military equipment to Ukraine, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on Wednesday after his phone conversation with Volodymyr Zelensky.

“Just spoke with Zelensky. I let him know that Canada will send Ukraine another shipment of highly-specialized military equipment. We discussed sanctions against Russia and humanitarian assistance for Ukraine, too,” Trudeau tweeted.

US waging ‘economic war’ on Russia

The US is waging “economic war” on Russia, Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov has announced.

“The United States has declared economic war on Russia and it is de facto waging this war,” Peskov told reporters, with the Russian government scrambling to impose measures to limit the economic fallout of the sanctions.

Speaking in Moscow, Peskov said Russia will “defend its interests” in the face of Western imposed sanctions.

He added that Poland’s offer to send MiG jets to Ukraine would create a “highly undesirable and a potentially dangerous scenario”.

Zelensky says no-fly zone is needed to avert humanitarian catastrophe

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said the international community would be responsible for a mass “humanitarian catastrophe” if it did not agree a no-fly zone to protect his country.

In a daily televised address, he stated the threat level in Ukraine was at a maximum nearly two weeks into Russia’s invasion but Ukrainians had shown they would never give in.

“Russia uses missiles, aircraft and helicopters against us, against civilians, against our cities, against our infrastructure. It is the humanitarian duty of the world to respond,” he continued.

“When will there be a decision? Look, we’re at war!” he noted, adding, “We ask you again to decide as soon as possible. Send us planes.”

France: World heading for 1973-type energy shock

The spike in energy prices caused by Russia’s war in Ukraine will produce effects comparable to the 1973 oil shock, French Economy Minister Bruno Le Maire has warned.

The current energy crisis was “comparable in intensity, in brutality, to the oil shock of 1973,” Mr Le Maire told a conference in Paris.

“In 1973, as you know, the response caused an inflationary shock, leading central banks to massively increase their rates, which killed off growth,” he added, noting that “this has a name: stagflation, and it’s precisely what we want to avoid in 2022”.

The first oil shock in the early 1970s was caused by the Yom Kippur war when Egyptian and Syrian forces launched an offensive against Israel.

Six Arab members of the OPEC oil cartel declared an embargo on exports to countries supporting Israel, notably the United States. They quadrupled the oil price to $11.65 a barrel, provoking recessions in Western countries and steep inflation.

UK: Ukraine crisis a ‘wake-up call’ for democracies

“The Ukraine crisis is a wake-up call for free democracies,” British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss wrote on Twitter.

“I am in the US to take forward support for Ukraine, degrading the economy funding Vladimir Putin’s war machine, and isolating Russia internationally: Putin must be held to account. Putin must fail in Ukraine,” she continued.

Erdogan: Turkey aims to end suffering of Ukrainian civilians

Turkey sees it as a responsibility to end the suffering of Ukrainian civilians and has been striving to establish diplomatic contacts in this regard, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan stated, adding that “fascist practices” against Russians cast a shadow over Ukraine’s legitimate struggle.

Addressing his ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) meeting in the Parliament in the capital Ankara, he underlined that Turkey rejects moves resembling a ‘witch-hunt’ against Russian people, literature, students and artists.

“Fascist practices” against Russians cast a shadow over Ukraine’s “legitimate struggle”, he underscored.

Kyiv unaware of what’s happening at occupied nuclear plants

Ukraine’s energy minister has warned the country’s authorities do not know what the current radiation levels are at the defunct Chernobyl nuclear power plant as they have received no information regarding the site since it was seized by Russian troops.

Herman Halushchenko said Kyiv also had no control over what was happening at the occupied Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, which Moscow’s forces took control of last week.

Ukraine state power grid: Chernobyl ‘disconnected’ from power grid

Russian forces have disconnected the Chernobyl nuclear plant from the national power grid, the Ukraine state power grid has announced.

EU: New anti-Russia sanctions will target over 100 individuals

New EU sanctions against Russia will target some 100 individuals, EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said on Wednesday.

“We need to continue increasing pressure through the options that we have. Member states are working on a new package of sanctions that involves around a 100 people responsible at different levels of government more economic sanctions. I hope that this package will be adopted before the end of this session today,” Borrell added.

UN: 2.1-2.2 million people have now fled Ukraine

The number of people fleeing Ukraine since the Russian invasion began has probably now reached 2.1-2.2 million people, the head of the United Nation’s refugee agency UNHCR has said.

United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi told a news conference during a visit to Stockholm that “the time is now to try to help at the border”, rather than discussions on the division of refugees between countries.

Grandi added that non-EU-member Moldova in particular was very vulnerable in the current situation.

Live Updates: Russia’s “Special Operation” in Ukraine; Day 14

Civilians start leaving Ukraine’s Sumy in private cars

Civilians in private cars have started leaving the northeastern Ukrainian city of Sumy after a “humanitarian corridor” was established for a second successive day, Mayor Oleksandr Lysenko noted in televised comments.

12-hour ceasefire agreed

Russia and Ukraine have agreed a day-long ceasefire around a series of evacuation corridors to allow civilians to escape the fighting, Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk said.

Vereshchuk added Moscow vowed to respect the truce from 9:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. local time (7 a.m. – 7 p.m. GMT) around six areas that have been heavily hit by fighting, including regions near Kyiv, in Zaporizhzhia in the south, and some parts of Ukraine’s northeast.

Moscow: Russia’s special operation does not seek to overthrow Ukrainian government

Russia’s special military operation is not aimed at overthrowing Ukraine’s current government or destroying its statehood but seeks to protect the Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics (DPR, LPR), demilitarize and denazify Ukraine, as well as to eliminate military threats for Russia, Russian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said at a briefing on Wednesday.

“The special military operation seeks to protect the DPR and LPR, demilitarize and denazify Ukraine, eliminate the military threat for Russia that is coming from Ukraine’s territory due to the activities of NATO countries there and attempts to pump the country with weapons. The operation is not aimed at occupying Ukraine, destroying its statehood or overthrowing the current government. It is not directed against civilians,” she pointed out.

Zakharova added that Russia had to keep explaining its goals amid “the disinformation and bogus stories that Western intelligence agencies are creating in the Western media.”

EU agrees to toughen sanctions on Russia, Belarus 

The EU has agreed to add more Russian oligarchs and officials to its sanctions blacklist, tighten controls on cryptocurrency transfers and target the maritime sector over Moscow’s war in Ukraine, diplomats have stated.

The 27-nation bloc also gave the go-ahead to cut three Belarusian banks from the global Swift payments system over Minsk’s support for the Kremlin’s attack, the French mission, which holds the EU’s rotating presidency, tweeted.

It comes as the UN said Belarus is crushing dissent and blocking victims of rights abuses from seeking justice, hitting out at a “situation of complete impunity” in the country.

“The authorities’ extensive and sustained actions to crush dissent and repress civil society, independent media and opposition groups, while at the same time shielding perpetrators, points to a situation of complete impunity in Belarus,” UN human rights chief, Michelle Bachelet, announced in a statement following the publication of a new report on the situation inside Belarus.

Moscow says Bioweapon labs in Ukraine prove Washington criminal activity

Research conducted in US laboratories in Ukraine corroborates US illegal and criminal activity in that Eastern European country, Russian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova told the Sputnik radio station on Wednesday commenting on the corresponding statement by US Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Victoria Nuland.

“Yesterday, Victoria Nuland, in response to a question by American legislators, confirmed the existence of not just the laboratories in question but, as they actually call it, research. And she uttered a remarkable phrase – that is, the very body of evidence that was needed, which we now have – that they [the US] were doing everything so that these materials wouldn’t end up in Russia’s hands. We don’t have to guess what kind of materials those are, there is nothing to guess here anymore. These are the materials that prove the US’ illegal and criminal activity on Ukrainian soil,” the diplomat stated.

“Beijing strongly opposes unilateral sanctions, they will not bring peace & Security”

China strongly opposes unilateral sanctions, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said on Wednesday, commenting on the US’ ban on Russian oil imports.

“China strongly opposes unilateral sanctions that have no international legal basis,” Zhao told a briefing.

Introducing sanctions on any occasion will not bring peace and security, the diplomat added.

22 people killed in residential bombing

A humanitarian corridor out of the besieged Ukrainian city of Sumy will continue to function on Wednesday, regional governor Dmytro Zhyvytsky said.

About 5,000 people rode buses out of the north-eastern city on Tuesday after Moscow and Kyiv agreed on the corridor, he added, and about 1,000 cars were also able to leave, moving towards the city of Poltava.

The Sumy-Poltava corridor was the only one that functioned on Tuesday. Although Russia had announced it would also allow civilians to leave Kyiv and the cities of Kharkiv, Mariupol and Chernihiv, the sides accused each other of failing to implement those deals.

Zhyvytsky stated the city’s residential area had been bombed overnight, with one bomb killing 22 civilians.

US official confesses Ukraine has ’biological research facilities’, fears Russia could seize them

Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Victoria Nuland has admitted that Ukraine hosts what she called “biological research facilities”, adding that the United States is concerned they could come under the control of Russian forces.

“Ukraine has biological research facilities, which in fact we are now quite concerned Russian forces may be seeking to gain control of, so we are working with the Ukrainians on how they can prevent any of those research materials from falling into the hands of Russian forces should they approach,” Nuland said during a Senate hearing on Ukraine.

Ukraine claims Russians dressed as civilians advance on Mykolaiv

The general staff of Ukraine’s armed forces announced the country was building up its defence of key cities in the north, south and east as Russia’s advance stalled.

In a statement early on Wednesday, it said that forces around Kyiv were resisting the Russian offensive with unspecified strikes and “holding the line”.

The Ukrainian general staff added that in the northern city of Chernihiv, Russian forces were placing military equipment among residential buildings and on farms.

And in the south, it claimed Russians dressed in civilian clothes were advancing on the city of Mykolaiv.

10 dead in strikes in Severodonestk

At least 10 people were killed in a Russian military attack in the eastern Ukrainian town of Severodonestk, a local official said in a statement on Telegram.

The Russian military “opened fire” on residential homes and other buildings in the town, he added, without immediately specifying whether it was an artillery attack.

The region has seen heavy fighting in recent days.

Ukraine makes new attempt to get civilians out of Mariupol, other cities

Ukraine will try to evacuate civilians through six “humanitarian corridors”, including from the besieged southern port city of Mariupol, Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk has said.

She added that Ukrainian armed forces had agreed to stop firing in those areas from 9 a.m. until 9 p.m. (07:00-19:00 GMT) and urged Russian forces to fulfil their commitment to local ceasefires.

Live Updates: Russia’s “Special Operation” in Ukraine; Day 14 Live Updates: Russia’s “Special Operation” in Ukraine; Day 14

Russia reducing use of US dollar

Russia is reducing the use of US dollars in its reserves and external settlements after the West slapped sanctions on Russia, the RIA news agency has quoted the foreign ministry’s director of economic cooperation as saying.

Ukraine bans exports of several grains, sugar, salt, meat

Ukraine’s government has banned exports of rye, barley, buckwheat, millet, sugar, salt, and meat until the end of this year, according to a cabinet resolution.

Top lawmakers reach deal on Ukraine aid

Congressional leaders have reached a bipartisan deal providing $13.6bn to help Ukraine and European allies plus billions more to battle the pandemic as part of an overdue $1.5 trillion measure financing federal agencies for the rest of this year.

Though a tiny portion of the massive bill, the money responding to the Russian blitzkrieg ensured robust bipartisan support for the legislation.

President Joe Biden had requested $10bn for military, humanitarian and economic aid last week, and Democratic and Republican backing was so staunch that the figure grew to $12bn Monday and $13.6bn just a day later.

European Commission President says have enough gas for this winter

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen has stated that the bloc has bought enough liquefied natural gas that it should be independent of Russian imports up until the end of the winter.

Von der Leyen also told Germany’s ARD television that sanctions against Russia were designed to cause maximum impact on Moscow, while causing the least damage possible to Western economies.

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

Russian natural gas company Gazprom has continued gas shipments via Ukraine at the same volume of 109.5 million cubic metres a day, the company has announced.

Russian MoD makes public documents confirming preparation by Kiev of offensive operation in Donbass

Russia’s Ministry of Defence has made public documents confirming preparation by Kiev authorities of an offensive operation in Donbass in March.

“In the course of a special military operation, secret documents of the command of the National Guard of Ukraine came into the possession of the Russian military. These documents confirm covert preparation by the Kiev regime of an offensive operation in Donbas scheduled for March 2022,” said official representative of the Russian Defence Ministry, Major General Igor Konashenkov.

Russia’s MoD well remembers the statements made by the Kiev regime, circulated in February by the Western media, about alleged absence of any plans for the armed seizure of the Lugansk and Donetsk People’s Republics (LPR, DPR) and Ukraine’s purported desire to resolve all issues allegedly “by political and diplomatic means”, he added.
“However, the originals of the secret military documents of the National Guard of Ukraine clearly prove the falsity of those statements,” stated Konashenkov.

Moscow: EU sanctions against Russia cause enormous damage to EU citizens

The EU sanctions against Russia cause enormous damage to EU citizens, Dmitry Birichevsky, director of the Russian Foreign Ministry’s Department of Economic Cooperation, said in an interview with Sputnik.

“The EU continues to call for a further increase in sanctions pressure on Russia. Such a policy of the West is based on logic that is completely divorced from reality,” Birichevsky stated.

He added Moscow repeatedly noted that the EU restrictive measures are illegitimate and undermine the foundations of international law; among other things, they contradict the interests of the European Union itself.

“They lead to a break in the existing trade and production chains and cause enormous damage to citizens of the EU member states. At the same time, restrictive measures are especially counterproductive in conditions of global economic instability caused by the coronavirus pandemic,” the Russian diplomat continued.

Moscow will work out targeted trade and financial restrictions to Western sanctions introduced in the wake of Russia’s operation in Ukraine, Birichevsky said.

“It is obvious that targeted retaliatory trade and financial restrictions will also be developed,” Birichevsky added.

Moscow expects Russian, Ukrainian FMs to meet on March 10

Kiev has confirmed that a meeting between Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmitry Kuleba and his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov will take place on the sidelines of a diplomatic forum in Turkey’s Antalya on Thursday so Moscow expects that the meeting will indeed be held, Russian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova told the Sputnik radio station on Wednesday.

US claims it’s ‘clear’ Russia will lose conflict

Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Victoria Nuland says Russia is destined to lose its war in Ukraine.

“It is clear that Russia will lose this conflict – whether they lose it quickly or whether they lose it extremely slowly, it is only a matter of time,” she stated.

“The problem is that if this can be lost quickly, many, many, many lives will be saved, which is why we have to continue to pour on the economic pressure; we have to continue to support the defensive needs of the Ukrainian people,” she added.

Nuland noted US officials’ engagements with China – including a recent call between the US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi – aimed to get Beijing to influence Moscow to end the invasion.

“Our intention in our regular engagement with China, including Secretary Blinken’s call with his counterpart, was to underscore that this war is not good for China, that we want to see China use its influence with Russia to get this war ended, and at a minimum to help get these humanitarian corridors going,” Nuland told US legislators.

“And that if they are concerned about their economic situation as they should well be, with the lowest growth rates in 15 years, that this war is contributing to it,” she continued.

Fitch: Russia default on debt is ‘imminent’

Ratings agency Fitch has again downgraded Russia’s sovereign debt rating further into junk territory from “B” to “C”, saying the decision reflects the view that a default is “imminent”.

It justified the further downgrade by saying recent developments had “further undermined Russia’s willingness to service government debt”.

Air alert declared in Kyiv as fighting continues

An air alert has been declared in and around Kyiv, with residents urged to get to bomb shelters as quickly as possible.

“Kyiv region – air alert. Threat of a missile attack. Everyone immediately to shelters,” regional administration head Oleksiy Kuleba stated.

UK claims Ukraine’s air defences having considerable success against Russian jets

The UK has claimed Ukraine’s air defences were having success against Russian jets, likely preventing Russia from controlling the airspace.

“Ukrainian air defences appear to have enjoyed considerable success against Russia’s modern combat aircraft, probably preventing them achieving any degree of control of the air,” the Ministry of Defence intelligence update posted on Twitter said.

The UK’s assessment also added Russian forces had failed to make any significant breakthroughs in fighting northwest of Kyiv.

UK announces new aviation sanctions against Russia

The UK has unveiled new aviation sanctions giving it the power to detain any Russian aircraft and banning exports of aviation or space-related goods to Russia.

The UK will also strengthen its ban on Russian aircraft, making it a criminal offence for any to fly or land in the UK.

“The ban includes any aircraft owned, operated or chartered by anyone connected with Russia or designated individuals or entities, and will include the power to detain any aircraft owned by persons connected with Russia,” the Foreign Office announced in a statement.

Moscow claims Ukraine worked on development of biological weapons near Russian borders

During the special operation in Ukraine, Moscow obtained documents proving that Ukrainian biological laboratories located near Russian borders worked on development of components of biological weapons, Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova has claimed.

Cabinet: Japan will cooperate with G7 partners on banning oil imports from Russia

The Japanese government will cooperate with the international community, primarily with partners in the Group of Seven (G7), to impose a ban on the import of oil and oil products from Russia due to the situation around Ukraine, Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno, told a press conference on Wednesday.

When asked to comment on Japan’s position on this matter he replied: “We would like to properly study the measures that are considered effective, in cooperation with the international community, primarily with the G7 countries.”

Poll: 79 percent of Americans back Russian oil ban

Seventy-nine percent of Americans support a ban on Russian oil imports even if it drives up gas prices in the US, according to a new poll.

The survey, conducted by The Wall Street Journal, found that only 13 percent of registered voters polled oppose a ban on Russian oil imports.

According to a Reuters/Ipsos opinion poll, a large majority of Americans supports an end to US imports of Russian energy despite surging gasoline prices.

The poll, conducted on Monday and Tuesday, suggests President Joe Biden has broad support from voters of his Democratic Party and from Republicans for the ban on Russian oil and natural gas imports.

Report: White House expands intelligence allowed to be shared with Ukraine

The White House is expanding the intelligence that is allowed to be shared with Ukraine, a senior Joe Biden administration official told The Wall Street Journal, amid the ongoing Russian invasion.

The plan will allow US spy agencies to send Kyiv more intelligence without extra bureaucratic barriers.

The US has already been sharing some intelligence with Ukraine, but lawmakers have complained the process has been too slow and doesn’t allow for real-time targeting that Ukrainians could use to repel Russian attacks, the Journal reported.

Report: Saudi, UAE leaders declined calls with Biden amid Ukraine conflict

Leaders in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) declined calls with President Joe Biden as the war in Ukraine intensified, Middle East and US officials told The Wall Street Journal.

“There was some expectation of a phone call, but it didn’t happen,” a US official told the Journal regarding a call between Biden and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

“It was part of turning on the spigot [of Saudi oil],” the official added.

UAE leader Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed also declined a call from Biden, according to the officials.

Officials told the outlet that US relations with the two Persian Gulf countries have been strained over the Biden administration’s lack of support in the war in Yemen and the revived negotiations concerning the Iran nuclear deal.

5,000 people evacuated from Sumy

About 5,000 people and 1,000 cars evacuated the city of Sumy, northeastern Ukraine on Tuesday, according to deputy head of the Ukrainian presidential office Kirill Timoshenko.

Sumy has seen heavy attacks in the past few days and is almost cut off from the rest of the country. Some 21 people were reported killed in the city in an airstrike Monday night.

A tense and fleeting evacuation from Sumy took place on Tuesday, with civilians fleeing in private cars and buses taking people to Poltava, about 160 kilometers (100 miles) away in central Ukraine, according to Dmytro Lunin, head of the Poltava regional administration.

US sending Patriot missiles to Poland to counter any threats to allies

The United States is sending two Patriot missile batteries to Poland as a “defensive deployment” to counter any potential threat to US and NATO allies during Russia’s ongoing invasion of Ukraine, a spokesman for US European Command confirmed.

Pentagon dismisses Poland’s proposal to transfer fighter jets to US for delivery to Ukraine

The Pentagon dismissed Poland’s proposal to transfer their MiG-29 fighter jets to the United States for delivery to Ukraine, calling it not “tenable”, Pentagon press secretary John Kirby said.

The Pentagon is in touch with the Polish government about the issue, but Poland’s proposal shows the “complexities” of transferring the fighters to Ukraine, Kirby announced in the statement.

“It is simply not clear to us that there is a substantive rationale for it,” Kirby stated, adding, “We will continue to consult with Poland and our other NATO allies about this issue and the difficult logistical challenges it presents, but we do not believe Poland’s proposal is a tenable one.”

Ukrainian First Lady condemns Kremlin’s ‘mass murder’ of civilians in open letter

Olena Zelenska, the First Lady of Ukraine, has condemned the Kremlin’s “mass murder” of civilians, including children, in an open letter to the global media on the Russian invasion.

In a statement, Zelenska stated that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine “was impossible to believe.

Starbucks suspends all business activity in Russia

Starbucks has announced it will suspend all business activity in Russia.

McDonald’s closing 850 restaurants in Russia temporarily

McDonald’s announced through a press release that it will be suspending operations in Russia by temporarily closing 850 restaurants throughout the country because of its invasion of Ukraine.

Coca-Cola and Pepsi suspend operations in Russia

Coca Cola and Pepsi have suspended sales of their fizzy drinks in Russia, becoming the latest high-profile Western consumer brands to curtail operations in the region following Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.

Putin orders import-export ban on certain products for 2022

Russian President Vladimir Putin has issued an order to restrict or prohibit imports and exports of certain products and raw materials from Russia in 2022, but a list of those products that will be restricted and/or prohibited has yet to be defined by the government, Russian state media RIA reports, quoting the decree on special foreign economic measures aimed to ensure Russia’s security.

The government will have to define the list of states to be covered by these decisions within two days, but adds these restrictions will not cover products or raw materials being transported by citizens for their personal needs.

Putin’s ban comes as US President Joe Biden announced Tuesday that his administration is banning Russian energy imports — including oil, natural gas and coal — in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Zelensky addresses reports of UN email which advised staff not to refer to Russian invasion as a “war”

Speaking in a video posted on Telegram, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky addressed reports of an internal UN email advising staff not to refer to the Russian invasion of Ukraine as a “war”.

“You may have seen in the news today the story that the United Nations allegedly does not consider the Russian invasion a war. I know this outraged many, and not only in Ukraine,” Zelensky said.

“I am grateful to our team. We made everything clear and quickly received assurances: there will be no lies in the UN structures. There will be no playing along with the aggressor. The word “war” will be heard on this site. Because that is the truth. We will not allow anyone in the world to ignore the suffering and murder of our people, our children,” he added.

The United Nations in New York, for its part, walked back the email contents in a Tuesday news briefing, with UN spokesperson Stephan Dujarric saying that an unnamed regional office should not have issued a memo warning staff to not use the words “war” or “invasion” to describe what is happening in Ukraine, “because there are no official instructions on what words saying those things”.

The UN spokesperson added UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has used the word “war” and so has his top political deputy in a tweet, stating that “this war is senseless”.

Ukraine responds to Russia ceasefire proposal: “It is difficult to trust the occupier”

In a brief response to Russia’s new ceasefire announcement, the Ukrainian Armed Forces noted that “the Russian side announces a ‘silence regime’ for the opening of humanitarian corridors tomorrow, March 9, from 9:00 am in Kyiv”.

In a Telegram post, the Armed Forces said that “Russia will request that Ukraine agree on the routes and opening hours of humanitarian corridors and notify representatives of foreign embassies, the UN, the OSCE, and the Red Cross by 02:00 in Kyiv on March 9”.

But it ends: “It is difficult to trust the occupier.”

Zhytomyr mayor claims apartment building & vital textile factory destroyed by Russian military strikes

An apartment building and a major textile factory in Zhytomyr, Ukraine, were destroyed by Russian military strikes, Mayor Serhii Sukhomlyn said.

Sukhomlyn added that a dormitory, which was used by retired Army soldiers and civilians, was destroyed.

He did not have any information on fatalities from the military strike at this time.

US: War will end when Putin realizes it puts his own leadership at risk

Victoria Nuland, the US State Department’s undersecretary of State for Political Affairs, said she believes the war will end “when Vladimir Putin realizes that this adventure has put his own leadership standing at risk, with his own military, with his own people, that he is hemorrhaging the lives of the people of Russia, the army of Russia and their future to his own vain ambition”.

Speaking at a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing, Nuland added at that point, Putin “will have to change course, or the Russian people take matters into their own hands”.

“But from the US perspective, the end game is the strategic defeat of President Putin in this adventure,” she stressed.

US estimates Russian military has lost 8% to 10% of military assets used in invasion of Ukraine

The US estimates that as much as 8% to 10% of Russian military assets used in the invasion of Ukraine is now destroyed or inoperable, according to a US official familiar with the latest intelligence.

The US estimates the Ukrainian military has lost a similar percentage of its assets, the official claimed.

First civilians evacuated from Sumy arrive at destination

The first convoy carrying civilians from Sumy in northern Ukraine has arrived in the central city of Poltava, Ukraine’s presidency announced.

“The first column of 22 buses has already arrived in Poltava,” the president’s deputy chief of staff, Kyrylo Tymoshenko, stated on Telegram.

Nearly 3,500 civilians were evacuated from the northern Ukrainian city of Sumy under a temporary ceasefire that mostly held, regional governor Dmytro Zhyvytsky said in a televised interview.

Around 1,700 of the evacuees were foreign students studying at universities in Sumy, he continued, adding the ceasefire was broken once by a shooting near a checkpoint.

Russia announces ceasefire for Wednesday morning

Moscow has announced a humanitarian ceasefire in Ukraine for Wednesday morning to carry out the evacuation of civilians from five cities, Russian news agencies reported.

“From 10:00 MSK (07:00 GMT) on March 9, 2022, the Russian Federation is declaring a ‘regime of silence’ and is ready to provide humanitarian corridors,” TASS news agency reported, quoting a department of the Russian defence ministry charged with humanitarian operations in Ukraine.

Information about corridors from Kyiv, Chernihiv, Sumy, Kharkiv and Mariupol will be sent to Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk.

IAEA loses contact with Chernobyl nuclear site

Systems monitoring nuclear material at the radioactive waste facilities at Chernobyl in Ukraine, which were taken over by Russian forces, have stopped transmitting data to the UN nuclear watchdog.

“The Director General … indicated that remote data transmission from safeguards monitoring systems installed at the Chernobyl NPP had been lost,” the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) announced in a statement.

Transmission systems at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant controlled by Russian troops have also been switched off.

Ukraine deputy PM: Evacuation from Mariupol fails again

Ukrainian authorities were once again not able to evacuate civilians from the southern Ukrainian city of Mariupol, Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk said, describing the humanitarian situation as catastrophic.

Humanitarian corridors from Mariupol offered by Russia that lead to Russian or Belarusian territory are unacceptable, she added.

Ukraine’s government accused Russia of shelling a humanitarian corridor it had promised to open to let residents flee the besieged city.

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