Friday, July 12, 2024

Live Updates: Russia’s “Special Operation” in Ukraine; Day 18

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.

UN says 596 civilians killed in Ukraine since conflict began

The UN human rights office said at least 596 civilians have been killed in Ukraine since the start of the war, and at least 1,067 have been injured.

The Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights added that 43 of those killed were children, while 57 were injured.

Over 800 detained in protests across Russia against war in Ukraine

Russian police detained more than 800 people for protesting Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.

OVD-Info, which monitors arrests during protests, said police had detained 817 people during demonstrations in 37 cities in Russia.

Law enforcement in Moscow said they had detained around 300 people in the capital’s centre for breaches of public order.

Last weekend, police arrested more than 5,000 protesters across Russia.

UN agencies: ‘Stop attacks on health care’ in Ukraine

The World Health Organization, the UN’s children’s fund UNICEF and its population fund UNFPA have issued a joint statement calling for an immediate stop to attacks on healthcare in Ukraine.

“Today, we call for an immediate cessation of all attacks on health care in Ukraine,” they said.

”These horrific attacks are killing and causing serious injuries to patients and health workers, destroying vital health infrastructure and forcing thousands to forgo accessing health services despite catastrophic needs,” they added.

Ukraine presidential adviser says talks with Russia going on ‘right now’

Ukrainian presidential adviser Oleksiy Arestovych has said talks between Ukraine and Russia are ongoing, with the situation around the besieged city of Mariupol a particular focus for Ukrainian authorities.

“Talks are continuing right now,” he stated in an interview on national television.

Arestovych added Ukraine had enough troops deployed in Mariupol to prevent its capture by encircling Russian forces.

Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov has noted talks between Russia and Ukraine will resume on Monday, the RIA news agency reported.

Red Cross warns Time is running out for civilians in Mariupol

At least 2,187 people in the coastal city of Mariupol have died since the start of the war, Ukraine’s government said Sunday, as the International Committee of the Red Cross warned that time was running out for hundreds of thousands of civilians still trapped in the besieged city.

Ukraine denies Russia’s claims it killed up to 180 foreign mercenaries during strike on military base

Ukraine responded to Russia’s claims it has killed up to 180 foreign mercenaries during a strike on Yavoriv military base, calling it “pure Russian propaganda,” Ukrainian Defense Ministry spokesperson Markiyan Lubkivsky told CNN.

“This is not the truth. Pure Russian propaganda,” Lubkivsky said in a message to CNN, further saying there are still no foreigners confirmed among the dead in Yavoriv military base.

IMF: Russian default on debts no longer ‘improbable’

Russia may default on its debts in the wake of unprecedented sanctions over its invasion of Ukraine, but that would not trigger a global financial crisis, International Monetary Fund Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva said.

Georgieva told CBS that sanctions imposed by the US and other democracies were already having a “severe” impact on the Russian economy and would trigger a deep recession there this year.

The sanctions were also limiting Russia’s ability to access its resources and service its debts, which meant a default was no longer viewed as “improbable,” Georgieva added.

Ukraine doesn’t expect NATO’s help if Russia uses chemical attack

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba on Sunday said he does not expect that NATO would defend Ukraine if Russia launched a chemical weapons attack against the country.

“When you’re asking me whether NATO will defend us, well, we do not have — we do not expect that” Kuleba told moderator Margaret Brennan on CBS’s “Face the Nation.”

“What we are asking is very simple thing. We say arm Ukraine, and we will do the rest. Give us all the weapons necessary, and we will fight for our own land and for our people,” Kuleba added.

Ukrainian official: Over 140,000 civilians evacuated from front lines

More than 140,000 civilians have been evacuated from conflict zones in Ukraine, the country’s Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk said in an interview on national television.

Vereshchuk said a humanitarian convoy once again failed to reach the besieged port city of Mariupol, due to Russian shelling.

“The column has stayed in (the Russian-occupied city of) Berdiansk, and will tomorrow again attempt to reach Mariupol,” she added.

Ukraine says its troops are counter-attacking in two regions 

Ukraine’s armed forces are launching counter-attacks against Russian troops in Ukraine’s southern Mykolaiv region and eastern Kharkiv region, Interior Ministry official Vadym Denysenko stated.

When asked about the possibility of Russian troops blockading Ukraine’s capital, Kyiv, Denysenko answered: “There is no blockade at the moment, and it is not foreseen for the near future.”

Pentagon: No-fly zone would not have prevented military base attack near Polish border

Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby said on Sunday that a no-fly zone would not have prevented Russian forces from striking a Ukrainian military base where foreign fighters have trained that stands less than 20 miles from the Polish border.

The Joe Biden administration has opposed setting up a no-fly zone in Ukraine, arguing it would put the US in direct military conflict since pilots from NATO and the US would be charged with enforcing the zone by shooting Russian planes out of the sky. Ukraine is not a member of NATO, and the White House has opposed using US military on the ground or in the air over Ukraine, a position that has bipartisan support.

Kirby told ABC’s “This Week” co-anchor Martha Raddatz that he didn’t think the no-fly zone would have stopped the attack on the base near Lviv.

There are currently no indications of an imminent Russian attack with chemical weapons according to Kirby, but officials continue to monitor the matter closely.

“We continue to watch this very very closely. It is of the Russian playbook that that which they accuse you of, they’re planning to do now. Again, we haven’t seen anything [that] indicates some sort of imminent chemical biological attack right now, but we’re watching this very very closely,” he stated.

Numerous international figures have warned that Russia may deploy chemical weapons in Ukraine.

Power Supply to Chernobyl nuclear plant restored 

Electricity supply to the Chernobyl nuclear power plant has been restored, Ukrainian nuclear power plant operator Energoatom said Sunday.

On Wednesday, the Russian Defense Ministry announced that Ukrainian military struck the facilities that supported power supply to Chernobyl station. Russian specialists transferred the station to reserve generators.

The power supply line was repaired by Ukrenergo specialists, Energoatom added.

UN: Over 2.6 million flee Ukraine war

The number of refugees fleeing Ukraine has neared 2.7 million, according to a United Nation tally.

The UN High Commissioner for Refugees said there were 2,698,280 refugees who had fled Ukraine so far, 100,700 more than the last count on Saturday.

Initial UN estimates estimated four million people could flee the war. That figure is likely to be revised upwards, the UN refugee agency added.

Moscow: Up to 180 foreign mercenaries killed in Russian strikes on Ukrainian training centres

Up to 180 foreign mercenaries were killed in precision strikes carried out by Russia against Ukrainian training centres located at the Yavorovsky military compound and near the settlement of Starichi, Russian Defence Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov has claimed.

He elaborated that these centres were being used to train and organise foreign mercenaries to fight Russian troops in Eastern Ukraine, as well as to store weaponry sent to the country by foreign nations.

“We will continue to target foreign mercenaries who arrive on the territory of Ukraine”, Konashenkov stated.

US: Russia showing signs of interest in Ukraine talks

Russia is showing signs of a willingness to engage in substantive negotiations over Ukraine, US Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman has said.

In an interview with “Fox News Sunday”, Sherman stated the United States is putting “enormous pressure” on Russian President Vladimir Putin to agree to a cease-fire and to allow the creation of humanitarian corridors to allow civilians to escape.

“That pressure is beginning to have some effect. We are seeing some signs to have real, serious negotiations. But I have to say … so far it appears Vladimir Putin is intent on destroying Ukraine,” Sherman added.

Sherman said China will have to make “some tough decisions” regarding its relationship with Russia amid Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.

She added it remains to be seen how Russia’s invasion has impacted its relationship with China, one of the country’s closest allies.

“We saw Russia and China come closer together, certainly before the Olympics, putting out a long manifesto about their partnership and how they were going to move forward together. And at the same time, we’d seen China pretty uncomfortable with an invasion of a sovereign country,” Sherman continued.

Mariupol city council claims 2,187 residents killed since start of war

The city council of Ukraine’s besieged port city of Mariupol claimed that 2,187 residents had been killed since the start of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on February 24.

Ukraine’s attorney general: Dozens of children killed in war

At least 85 children have died and nearly 100 have been wounded in the fighting in Ukraine, the office of Ukraine’s attorney general announced in a statement on Sunday, citing data from the country’s juvenile prosecutors.

The figure is higher than that provided by the United Nations human rights body, which reported on Saturday that 42 children had died. The United Nations has acknowledged that its tallies are probably an undercount.

Mariupol city council says last reserves of food & water are running out

Ukraine’s besieged port city of Mariupol is running out of its last reserves of food and water, its city council said, adding that Russian forces blockading the city continued to shell non-military targets.

There is no electricity, water or heating in the city. There is almost no mobile communication. The last reserves of food and water are running out,” it announced in an online statement.

Mayor of Kyiv says he’s worried about potential Russian chemical or biological attack on Ukraine

Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko said Sunday that he’s worried about the possibility of Russia using chemical or biological weapons in Ukraine as it wages an unprovoked invasion of the country.

“Yes, of course, we’re worried. Yes, of course, they can use — right now, from beginning, Putin told it’s just war against military forces,” Klitschko told CNN’s Dana Bash on “State of the Union” when asked whether he was worried about the possibility of Russian President Vladimir Putin using such weapons in Ukraine.

“Right now, we see the thousand of civilians and also children die,” he continued, adding, “This war (is) against all Ukrainian population. It’s this challenge for whole war.”

Klitschko stated he is worried that he is a target of the Russian military after a second mayor was abducted by Moscow’s forces.

Two Ukrainian mayors — Yevhen Matveyev of Dniprorudne and Ivan Fedorov of Melitopol — have been taken by Russian forces, according to Ukrainian authorities.

Second Ukrainian mayor abducted by Russian troops 

A Ukrainian mayor was abducted by invading Russian forces Sunday, the second such kidnapping in days, bringing strong condemnation from the European Union.

“The army of the Russian Federation captured the mayor of the city of Dniprorudne,” in the Zaporizhzhia Oblast region of southeast Ukraine, the regional administration head Oleksandr Starukh announced.

On Friday, the mayor of southern Ukraine’s Melitopol was kidnapped by Russian soldiers occupying the city, because “he refused to cooperate with the enemy”, according to the Ukrainian parliament.

US national security adviser is scheduled to meet a Chinese official on Monday in Rome

Jake Sullivan, the White House national security adviser, is scheduled to meet on Monday in Rome with Yang Jiechi, a member of the Chinese Communist Party’s Politburo and the director of its Central Foreign Affairs Commission, the White House announced on Sunday.

The two are expected to discuss the war in Ukraine, among other topics.

Chinese officials have publicly supported Russia during the war.

US “concerned” about nuclear escalation from Russia, but hasn’t seen anything requiring change in posture

US national security adviser Jake Sullivan told CNN Sunday that while the Joe Biden administration is “concerned about the possibility of escalation,” with respect to Russian President Vladimir Putin’s nuclear posture, “we have not seen anything that would require us to change our nuclear posture at this time.”

“We are watching this extremely closely, and obviously, the escalation risk with a nuclear power is severe, and it is a different kind of conflict than other conflicts the American people have seen over the years,” Sullivan told CNN’s Dana Bash on “State of the Union.”

“And the American President, Joe Biden, has to take that responsibility extremely seriously, even as we redouble our efforts to support the Ukrainians. As things stand today, the United States has not adjusted our nuclear posture, but it is something that we monitor day by day, hour by hour, because it is a paramount priority to the President,” he added.

He also said that Russian strikes on Lviv is a sign Putin “is frustrated by the fact that his forces are not making the kind of progress that he thought that they would make against major cities, including Kyiv, that he is expanding the number of targets, that he is lashing out, and that he is trying to cause damage in every part of the country.”

Sullivan noted that while the US believes “China, in fact, was aware before the invasion took place that Vladimir Putin was planning something, they may not have understood the full extent of it.”

“Because it’s very possible that Putin lied to them the same way that he lied to Europeans and others,” Sullivan continued.

Sullivan told NBC’s “Meet the Press” on Sunday that the US has made it clear to Beijing and other nations that if they believe they can bail out Russia or give the Kremlin a workaround to US sanctions, “they should have another thing coming, because we will ensure that neither China nor anyone else can compensate Russia for these losses.”

“In terms of the specific way of doing that, again, I’m not going to lay all of that out in public, but we will communicate that privately to China. As we have already done and will continue to do,” he stated.

Sullivan has warned that Russia will pay a “severe price” if it launches a chemical weapon attack on Ukraine.

Sullivan told CBS’s “Face the Nation” that the United States and its allies were consulting closely about the increasing threat of a chemical weapons attack and were communicating directly with Moscow to warn against any such move.

“The use of weapons of mass destruction would be a shocking additional line that Putin is crossing in terms of his assault on international law and international norms,” he noted.

Pentagon sees no sign of looming biochemical attack in Ukraine

The US Department of Defense said on Sunday that it did not see any signs of an inevitable chemical or biological attack by Russia in Ukraine.

Russia-Ukraine war: Delegates from both sides of peace talks have sounded positive

Ukrainian negotiator and presidential advisor Mykhailo Podolyak stated talks had become more constructive.

“We will not concede in principle on any positions. Russia now understands this. Russia is already beginning to talk constructively. I think that we will achieve some results literally in a matter of days,” he added.

Leonid Slutsky, a Russian delegate, said there had been significant progress and they hoped to soon arrive at a “joint position”, Reuters reports.

The state-owned RIA news agency reported he was comparing the state of talks now with those when they first started, saying there had been “substantial progress”.

This comes a day after Emmanuel Macron and Olaf Scholz announced Vladimir Putin did not show a willingness to end the war during a call on Saturday.

Nearly 125,000 evacuated via Ukrainian humanitarian corridors

Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskiy has noted almost 125,000 people have been evacuated from conflict zones through humanitarian corridors.

In a video address on Sunday, he stated that the priority was Mariupol, where 400,000 people are trapped and water and food has run out.

US journalist & film-maker killed by Russian forces in Irpin

Brent Renaud, an award-winning US film-maker whose work has appeared in the New York Times and other outlets, has been killed by Russian forces in the flashpoint town of Irpin, outside Kyiv. Juan Arredondo, a US photographer, was wounded.

Renaud, 51, was hit in the neck and died after coming under Russian fire while working in Irpin on Sunday, according to local police officials and multiple Ukrainian sources.

Finance minister: Half of Russia’s foreign exchange reserves frozen due to sanctions

Half of the gold and foreign exchange reserves of the Bank of Russia have been frozen due to sanctions, Finance Minister Anton Siluanov said in an interview with the Rossiya 1 TV channel.

“This is about half of these reserves that we had. We have a total amount of reserves of about $640 bln. Currently we cannot use about $300 billion of these reserves,” he stated.

The minister added that part of the Russian foreign exchange reserves is in Chinese currency. However, Western countries are now putting pressure on China in order to limit trade with it.

“Of course, there is pressure to limit access to those reserves that we have in yuan. I think that our partnership with China will allow us to maintain the cooperation that we have achieved, and not only to maintain, but also to multiply it in conditions when Western markets are closed,” Siluanov noted.

The minister reiterated that the debts of countries that were unfriendly to Russia would be paid in rubles.

“But – I repeat once again – the debts that we have to pay to the countries that are unfriendly to the Russian Federation and have made such restrictions on the use of foreign exchange reserves, it is to these countries that we will pay debts in ruble equivalent,” he stressed.

Russian airstrike kills 9 civilians in Mykolaiv

A Russian air raid killed nine civilians on Sunday in the southern Ukrainian port city of Mykolaiv, the region’s governor, Vitaliy Kim, said in a video statement, making it one of the deadliest attacks on a residential area in the city since the war began more than two weeks ago.

Details about the strike were not immediately available.

Kim added the attack on a residential area in the north of the city appeared to have been carried out by Russian fighter jets.

Pope calls Ukraine invasion ‘armed aggression’

Pope Francis has issued his toughest condemnation yet of the war in Ukraine, saying the “unacceptable armed aggression” must stop.

Speaking to thousands of people in St. Peter’s Square for his Sunday blessing, Francis also stated the bombing of hospitals and other civilian targets was “barbaric” and with “no valid strategic reason”.

“In the name of God I ask you: stop this massacre!,” he noted, adding that Ukrainian cities risked “being reduced to cemeteries.”

Putin told Erdogan he’s open to meeting Zelensky

Russian President Vladimir Putin told his Turkish counterpart, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, during a telephone conversation that he does not mind meeting with President Volodymyr Zelensky to discuss the situation in Ukraine, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said on Sunday.

The telephone conversation between the leaders of Russia and Turkey took place on 6 March.

“We have been working hard to organise a meeting of the leaders [of Russia and Ukraine]. Even before the beginning of the war, we made such efforts. In principle, Putin, during telephone conversations with our president, said that he does not mind such a meeting… The Ukrainian side is ready. Technical negotiations between the parties are in progress in Belarus,” Cavusoglu stated at a press conference.

He also noted that there are efforts by other channels, which Turkey supports.

Death toll from Russian strikes on military training facility reaches 35

Russian air strikes on the Yavoriv military training ground killed 35 people, the Lviv regional administration said Sunday.

A further 134 people have been hospitalized due to injuries caused by the early morning missile strikes, it added.

More than 30 missiles fired from warplanes over the Black and Azov seas hit the military base, stated Maksym Kozytsky, head of the Lviv regional military administration.

“Turkey will not join Western sanctions against Russia”

Turkey will not join the sanctions some Western countries have imposed on Russia over the special operation in Ukraine, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu told a diplomatic forum in Antalya on Sunday.

“We believe that the sanctions will not resolve the problem,” he said when asked about Turkey’s stance regarding sanctions against Russia.

“Take the airspace. In accordance with the Montreux Convention we have no power to close it. This is a legal obligation,” he added.

Qatar calls on all parties to ‘exercise restraint’ over Ukraine

Qatar’s foreign minister has called on all parties to “exercise restraint” and to avoid further escalation over Ukraine in a phone call with his Ukrainian counterpart, according to a Qatari foreign ministry statement.

Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani told Ukraine’s Dmytro Kuleba that Qatar urged “all parties to exercise restraint, resolve disputes through constructive dialogue and diplomatic methods, and to settle international disputes by peaceful means,” the statement reads.

Russia’s Gazprom continues gas shipments via Ukraine

Russian natural gas company Gazprom has said that it was continuing gas shipments via Ukraine.

Shipments volume at 109.6 million cubic metres, up from 109.5 million a day earlier, the company added.

Poland says NATO will have to think seriously if Putin uses chemical weapons

Poland’s President Andrzej Duda said in an interview on Sunday that the use of chemical weapons in Ukraine by Russia would be a game changer and NATO would have to think seriously about how to respond.

Asked if the use of chemical weapons by Vladimir Putin would be a red line for NATO at which point it has to get involved, Duda told BBC television: “If he uses any weapons of mass destruction then this will be a game changer in the whole thing.”

“For sure, the North Atlantic Alliance and its leaders led by the United States will have to sit at the table and they will really have to think seriously what to do because then it starts to be dangerous,” he added.

Europe is facing the worst refugee crisis since the Second World War, the Poland’s president has warned.

Ukraine calls Russia’s attack on International Centre for Peacekeeping and Security “terrorist attack”

Ukraine’s Minister of Defence, Oleksii Reznikov, has called Russia’s missile strikes on the International Centre for Peacekeeping and Security a “terrorist attack”.

Reznikov added that “foreign instructors” work at the military base.

“This is new terrorist attack on peace and security near the EU-NATO border. Action must be taken to stop this. Close the sky!” he said.

Lviv governor claims 9 killed, 57 injured in Russian attack on base

The governor of Ukraine’s Lviv region has claimed that nine people were killed and 57 others were wounded in airstrike on a military facility in the country’s west.

Foreign military instructors worked at the Yavoriv military facility near the Polish border that was hit by the attack, Ukrainian Defence Minister Oleksii Reznikov stated, but it was not clear if any were present at the time.

But emergency workers have told the Guardian the rocket attack on the military base near Lviv has killed 20 people.

Two large explosions were seen on Sunday at the base in Yavoriv, a garrison city just 12km from the Polish border.

Russian jets fired more than 30 cruise missiles at the military base near the Polish border, according to an official from Lviv, the New York Times reported.

EU: A no-fly zone would lead to a third world war

The High Representative for the Common Foreign and Security Policy of the European Union, Josep Borrell, has remarked that applying a no-fly zone in the war of Ukraine involves shooting down Russian planes that violate it and would mean “extend the conflict to a third world war”.

In an interview with El Periódico de Catalunya, Borrell thus justified the EU’s refusal to apply this no-fly zone, as requested by the Ukrainian President, Volodymyr Zelensky.

“When someone asks for a no-fly zone, that means having the ability and willingness to shoot down Russian planes that violate it; It would be to extend the conflict to a third world war and it is evident that we do not want to do it,” the politician has pointed out.

Borrell told CNN Turk on the sidelines of the Antalya Diplomacy Forum Europe is struggling between its desire to “support” Ukraine amid the ongoing Russian offensive and its fears that the war could spill over into other countries

“Everyone is trying to strike a difficult balance. On the one hand, we are trying to support Ukraine and, on the other hand, we are trying to prevent a bigger war,” he stated.

The top diplomat also alleged that President Vladimir Putin could “expand his military activities” beyond Ukraine, explaining that “nobody should give excuses” to Russia’s leader to do so.

Borrell had stated in an interview with LCI TV channel the West made a mistake by promising Ukraine NATO membership.

PM: Ukraine has sufficient volumes of basic food supplies

Ukraine’s government will introduce a plan to support the crop sowing campaign in an effort to safeguard food supplies amid Russia’s invasion, Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal said on Sunday.

He said Ukraine had sufficient volumes of basic food products for the next few months. “But we must also think about the future. Therefore the government is implementing a plan to support the sowing campaign, which should start soon where possible,” he added.

Ukrainians prepare for battle as Russian military surrounds Kyiv

Ukraine civilian fighters and residents in the capital are preparing for a major attack as Russian forces surround the city with troops and artillery just kilometres away.

Red Cross: Mariupol residents don’t have access to water

Mariupol in eastern Ukraine has been cut off from the rest of the world for almost two weeks and no one is allowed in or out amid intense fighting, with vehicles full of aid waiting in the outskirts of the city.

Jason Straziuso of International Committee of the Red Cross told Al Jazeera that there are thousands of families are in dire conditions without water in Mariupol.

“Even our team is collecting water from streams … but how does everyone do that… especially if you are elderly,” he added.

Russian troops attempt to surround Ukrainian forces in east

In an intelligence update on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the UK Ministry of Defence reported, “Russian forces are attempting to envelop Ukrainian forces in the east of the country as they advance from the direction of Kharkiv in the north and Mariupol in the south.”

“Russian forces advancing from Crimea are attempting to circumvent Mykolaiv as they look to drive west towards Odesa,” it said, adding, “Russia is paying a high price for each advance as the Ukrainian Armed Forces continues to offer staunch resistance across the country.”

Russia says it has destroyed 3,687 Ukrainian military infrastructure facilities

Russian troops have destroyed 3,687 Ukrainian military infrastructure facilities so far, Russian Defence Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov was quoted by Russian news agencies as saying on Sunday.

According to him, 99 aircraft, 128 unmanned aerial vehicles, 1,194 tanks and other armored combat vehicles, 121 multiple rocket launchers, 443 field artillery pieces and mortars, 991 units of special military vehicles were destroyed.

Western Ukrainian airport hit by Russian airstrike

An airport in the western Ukrainian city of Ivano-Frankivsk has had its infrastructure almost completely destroyed by a Russian airstrike, the city’s mayor Ruslan Martsinkiv said while speaking to Parliamentary TV channel “Rada.”

According to preliminary information, there are no casualties.

This is the third attack on the airport, Martsinkiv added.

Russia launches missile attack on Ukrainian military base near Lviv

Russian airstrikes hit the International Peacekeeping and Security Centre (IPSC) in the Yavoriv district, about 50km south-west of Lviv and about 25km from the border with Poland.

The IPSC is a large military base that includes a training centre for soldiers, predominantly for peacekeeping missions.

According to information released from the Lviv regional military administration and later confirmed by Lviv’s mayor, Andriy Sadovyi, Russian forces launched 8 missiles.

The latest attack indicates that Russia is stepping up its assaults in the west of the country and may be a deliberate attack on incoming western shipments of military and humanitarian aide to Ukraine.

The attack on the military base so close to the border with Poland follows a warning on Saturday from Russia’s deputy foreign minister, Sergei Ryabkov, that western shipments to Ukraine were “legitimate targets” for attack.

UK PM to visit Saudi Arabia in bid to wean West off Russian oil

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is expected to head to Saudi Arabia next week in a bid to find a replacement to Russian oil after sanctions were put on Moscow over its brutal invasion of Ukraine.

While in Riyadh, Johnson will speak with Saudi Crown Prince and de facto ruler Mohammed bin Salman, The Times reported.

Air raid sirens heard across most Ukraine

Air raid sirens blared throughout almost every major city in Ukraine, including the capital of Kyiv, as Russian forces ramped up their attacks following Vladimir President Putin’s dismissal of calls for a cease-fire.

Russian troops move away from Skadovsk

Russian troops are no longer in the southern city of Skadovsk, confirmed the city’s mayor, with electricity, gas and water supplies restored.

Russian forces install new mayor in Melitopol

A new mayor has been installed in Melitopol by Russian forces after the alleged abduction of its elected mayor on Friday.

Ivan Fedorov, the young mayor of the occupied city of Melitopol, was abducted and detained by a group of men from Russia’s armed forces, Ukrainian officials have claimed.

His arrest came amid growing indications on Saturday that Ukraine’s Russian occupiers were trying to strengthen their grip on territory seized since their invasion.

The Zaporozhye regional administration noted Melitopol’s new mayor is Galina Danilchenko, a former member of the city council.

Trump: Situation around Ukraine may lead to World War III

The Ukrainian crisis may evolve into World War III, former US President Donald Trump told his supporters in South Carolina.

“This could lead, by the way, this could lead to World War III, I see what’s happening,” he stated in a speech broadcast by the Newsmax channel.

In his opinion, Russia “is not going to stop” in achieving its goals, but the US administration does not have “anybody to talk to” Moscow, in particular to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Kiev: Russian-Ukrainian video talks continue without cease

Russian-Ukrainian negotiations continue without cease in the format of a video conference, Ukrainian presidential office adviser Mikhail Podolyak has said.

“Negotiations with the Russian delegations are now ongoing in a continuous video format. Special working subgroups have been created. Ukraine’s positions are determined by the previous directives,” the official added.

Having discussed main issues during recent talks, Russian and Ukrainian negotiators are now working to give them a legal shape, Podolyak said in an interview with Russia’s Kommersant daily.

“As soon as there are mutual legal frameworks, a meeting will be scheduled, the fourth round of talks. It may happen tomorrow, or the day after tomorrow,” he continued, adding, “So far, there is no need to just meet and negotiate. We have discussed all issues, and are now trying to pack them into some legal formats.”

According to the Ukrainian official, the matter of compensation of losses sustained by Ukraine should be among the issues mentioned in the tentative list of questions.

“Compensation mechanisms must be defined clearly: who, whose budget will bear the burden,” he said.

Podolyak did not rule out that third states, involved in the Ukrainian situation “directly or indirectly,” will participate in signing this document.

“They are ready to sit at the negotiating table at any moment, and to literally join the work, the signing of the tentative final document immediately. I don’t see any problems about that,” Podolyak added.

Kremlin Spokesman Dmitry Peskov told TASS the Russian delegation at talks with Ukraine, which are held via a video link, is led by Vladimir Medinsky, the aide to the Russian President Vladimir Putin, as it was during the face-to-face meetings in Belarus.

Medics: At least six killed, several injured after Kiev forces fire on Volnovakha hospital 

Ukrainian troops fired from a tank and Grad MLRS at a hospital with patients during the retreat from the city of Volnovakha, eastern Ukraine, killing at least six people, Sputnik reported, citing the accounts of hospital staff at the scene of the incident.

The building of the Volnovakha Central Hospital was seriously damaged. The walls were pierced in several spots, some of them collapsed, windows on three floors were almost all broken; medical buildings, wards, and patient rooms were damaged.

According to the hospital staff and soldiers of the DPR army, they counted at least six bodies of dead civilians on the square in front of the hospital, but the count is still underway, since the rubble has not been cleared.

Multiple explosions heard near Lviv

Multiple explosions were heard shortly before 6 a.m. local time Sunday on the outskirts of the northwestern city of Lviv, near Ukraine’s border with Poland.

Qatar’s FM to visit Moscow over Iran, Ukraine

Qatari Minister of Foreign Affairs Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani will travel to Moscow on Sunday after talks to revive the Iran nuclear deal stalled and Russia invaded Ukraine.

Al Thani plans to meet with his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov, a person with knowledge of the matter said. He could also potentially meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin, the person added, asking not to be identified.

NATO chief warns Russia may use chemical weapons

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg says Russia might use chemical weapons following its invasion of Ukraine, and that such a move would be a war crime, according to an interview in the German newspaper Welt am Sonntag.

“In recent days, we have heard absurd claims about chemical and biological weapons laboratories,” Stoltenberg was quoted by Welt am Sonntag as saying, adding that the Kremlin was inventing false pretexts to justify what could not be justified.

“Now that these false claims have been made, we must remain vigilant because it is possible that Russia itself could plan chemical weapons operations under this fabrication of lies. That would be a war crime,” Stoltenberg was quoted as saying.

He added that although the Ukrainian people were resisting the Russian invasion with courage, the coming days are likely to bring even greater hardship.

FM: Venezuela is Russia’s ally, but is ready to sell oil to US

Venezuelan Minister for Foreign Affairs Felix Plasencia has said Caracas is ready to sell oil to the United States again, while remaining “loyal” to Moscow.

Plascenia told Anadolu Agency that it would not be a “strange relationship” for Washington and Caracas to work together on oil, as Venezuela had “been doing oil business with the Americans for a long time.”

The minister argued that it would “be good for everyone” if Venezuela’s energy exports to the US get “back on track,” adding that Americans were welcome in the country as long as they “respect the sovereignty” of Venezuela and recognize President Nicolas Maduro as “Venezuela’s only and legitimate head of government.”

“This is a legitimate government. We are a sovereign state. To come to talk to us is to accept that. We must move towards a better understanding on this issue,” he stated.

The minister stressed, however, that Venezuela would remain “loyal allies of the Russian government,” and said the country sees President Vladimir Putin “as a responsible head of government.”

“We respect him as a member of the international community. We believe he will do the best for his people,” Plascenia concluded.

Satellite images show fires, severe damage to residential buildings in Mariupol

Satellite images taken on Saturday morning showed extensive damage to civilian infrastructure and residential buildings throughout the southern Ukrainian city of Mariupol, according to a private US company.

Maxar Technologies said fires were seen in the western section of the Black Sea port city and dozens of high-rise apartment buildings had been severely damaged.

Mariupol is facing what Ukraine says is a “humanitarian catastrophe”, with more than 1,500 civilians killed over 12 days.

A top Russian officer described the situation in the country in similarly stark language.

“Unfortunately, the humanitarian situation in Ukraine is continuing to deteriorate rapidly, and in some cities, it has reached catastrophic proportions,” added the head of the Russian National Defence Control Centre, Mikhail Mizintsev.

The UN has cited reports of “looting and violent confrontations” among civilians over the few resources available.

An emergency coordinator for Doctors Without Borders told CNN that the humanitarian situation in the Ukrainian city of Mariupol is deteriorating by the day.

“We have staff, MSF [Medecins Sans Frontières] staff, who are currently in Mariupol who we’ve been able to keep contact with, although that contact is getting harder and harder to keep every day. They confirmed to us there’s been no access to clean drinking water for over a week now,” Alex Wade told CNN’s Jim Acosta.

“They’re using snow and rain water, they’re breaking into heating systems to access the water in heating systems, but for many, water has already run out and so has the food for many people. The only people left with food are those who have stocks that they’re rationing,” he stated from Vinnytsia, Ukraine.

“I think we can say we’re in the disaster phase now,” he added.

Staff on the ground in Mariupol have told Wade that people are dying from lack of access to medicine, He said.

“The next phase we will see people who potentially could die from dehydration and hunger or … fleeing from the city trying to find food and water and dying from the violence outside the city,” he said.

Wade added there’s a “sense of panic” in the city right now.

“We had communication with a staff member today who was telling us that they’ve [been] … taking the dead bodies of their neighbors and burying them in their own yards, just so that their own neighbors will have a burial and not remain dead on the streets,” he said.

While evacuation corridors were slated to take place for the city Saturday, the lack of available communication hampers safety efforts, he continued.

“When there are discussions around humanitarian corridors or safe passage out of the city, many people are uninformed and they don’t know about it because there’s no communication inside the city. There’s no phone network. There’s no internet,” he added.

Significant destruction seen in Makariv

A large swath of Makariv, a village 30 miles west of Kyiv, has sustained significant damage from apparent Russian airstrikes.

Zelensky warns against ‘pseudo-republics’

Russia is trying to create new “pseudo-republics” in Ukraine to break his country apart, President Volodymyr Zelensky has said in his nightly address to the nation.

Zelensky has called on Ukraine’s regions, including Kherson, which was captured by Russian forces, not to repeat the experience of Donetsk and Luhansk.

“The occupiers on the territory of the Kherson region are trying to repeat the sad experience of the formation of pseudo-republics,” Zelensky stated, adding, “They are blackmailing local leaders, putting pressure on deputies, looking for someone to bribe.”

City council members in Kherson, a southern city of 290,000, on Saturday rejected plans for a new pseudo-republic, Zelensky continued.

“Ukraine will stand this test. We need time and strength to break the war machine that has come to our land,” he noted.

Zelensky said he was grateful for international support and pleaded with allies for more aid in an address Saturday.

“I keep reiterating to our allies and friends abroad; they have to keep doing more for our country, for Ukrainians and Ukraine. Because it is not only for Ukraine, but it is for all of Europe,” he continued, adding, “The evil which purposefully targets peaceful cities and ambulance vans and explodes hospitals will not stop with just one country if they have the strength to keep going.”

Chernobyl nuclear plant running on generators with staff “living” there since Russian attack

Repairs to Chernobyl’s electrical system, damaged during a Russian attack on March 9, are ongoing, as the nuclear power plant is now dependent on external diesel generators to keep its reactors operating, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has announced.

Alexey Likhachev, the director general of Russia’s nuclear agency Rosatom, told the IAEA additional fuel arrived on March 11.

Ukraine’s nuclear power plant operator Energoatom told the IAEA that Chernobyl’s 211 personnel and guards “have still not been able to rotate, in effect living there since the day before Russian forces took control.”

“[IAEA] Director General Grossi has repeatedly stressed the urgent need to ensure they can properly rest and rotate, saying this is also a vital element for safe and secure nuclear power operation,” IAEA said in a statement.

Regarding the situation at the Zaporizhzhya Nuclear Power Plant (NPP), Ukraine said the site remains under Russian control and that Moscow is planning to take “full and permanent control.” It also added 400 Russian soldiers are “present full time” at the site.

Russia confirmed experts are present at the Zaporizhzhya plant but denied it “had taken operational control” or it has plans to take on permanent management of the site, according to the IAEA.

Power supplies to this plant remain unchanged, despite damage to two of its four power lines, according to the IAEA.

The IAEA added eight of Ukraine’s 15 reactors remain in operation, “including two at the Zaporizhzhya NPP, three at Rivne, one at Khmelnytskyy, and two at South Ukraine” and that “radiation levels remain normal.”

Ukraine says people who died in Russia attack on convoy not in evacuation corridor

The seven women and children who Ukraine says died when Russian forces attacked a convoy escaping a village in the Kyiv region on Saturday were not as previously stated in an agreed evacuation corridor, the defence ministry said.

Ukraine’s intelligence service initially said those who died outside Peremoha had been in a “green corridor” agreed with Russia.

A defence ministry statement later added people had in fact tried to escape by themselves, “so they began evacuating without the ‘green corridor’ agreed by the parties”.

Deputy PM: Some 13,000 Ukrainians evacuated from cities on Saturday

About 13,000 people were evacuated from a number of Ukrainian cities on Saturday, said Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk, almost twice the number who managed to get out the previous day.

Vereshchuk added that no one had managed to leave the besieged city of Mariupol and blamed obstruction by Russian forces. Moscow had earlier accused Ukrainian forces of intentionally trapping people there.

New US military aid includes anti-armour, anti-aircraft systems, small arms

Immediate US military assistance for Ukraine, authorised by President Joe Biden, will include anti-armour, anti-aircraft systems, and small arms, a senior administration official has confirmed.

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