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Russia admits to use of conscripts in Ukraine

March 9, 2022

President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has accused Russia of bombing a hospital in Mariupol during a supposed ceasefire to enable civilians to leave. The EU has agreed to sanction more oligarchs and officials.

This image taken from video provided by the Mariupol City Council shows the aftermath of Mariupol Hospital after an attack, in Mariupol, Ukraine, Wednesday March 9, 2022.
Authorities in Mariupol said 17 were wounded in an attack on a maternity hospitalImage: AP Photo/picture alliance
  • Corridors to open to allow people to flee several Ukrainian cities
  • Europe has enough liquefied natural gas for the winter
  • US, Germany dismiss Polish call to deliver jets to Ukraine
  • Ukraine's president has accused Russia of bombing a maternity hospital in Mariupol
  • German Christian Democrat opposition suggests cutting off Nord Stream 1 gas 
  • Russian and Ukrainian foreign ministers arrive in Turkey for talks on Thursday

This live updates article is now closed. For the latest developments on Russia's invasion of Ukraine, please click here.

Former NATO chief Wesley Clarke 'surprised' by Russian 'ineffectiveness' in Ukraine

Former NATO Supreme Allied Commander Wesley Clarke told DW that he was "surprised by the ineffectiveness of the Russian military" in Ukraine.

"The Russians have proven themselves a relatively inept force," he said.

Clarke said "any negotiations will be determined by the outcome on the ground, [which] is determined by the resistance of the Ukrainians" and that NATO should increase its support to Ukraine by giving it "javelins, stingers and as much anti-air and air support as is feasible to do."

Former NATO boss Wesley Clark talks Ukraine

Clarke added that although it wasn't possible to establish a "legalistic" no-fly zone in Ukraine, "air support can be provided by nations who are willing to go in."

When asked if NATO air support could lead to further escalation and the outbreak of a third world war, Clarke said "if we fall back and are intimidated by Mr. Putin's threat of nuclear weapons, if there's nothing we can do to help Ukraine, then we'll be dealing with the next crisis on NATO's territory itself."

"Escalation by Mr. Putin is not solely under the control of NATO," Clarke said, adding that Putin may decide to escalate regardless of NATO's actions.

Clarke said that, although Russian forces were currently "checked" on the ground by Ukraine, this could change quickly as Russia ramps up bombing and shelling of population centers.

Putin is "trying to steal Ukraine as quietly and quickly as he can," Clarke said. "But he will use massive firepower if necessary."

IMF approves $1.4 million in support for Ukraine

The International Monetary Fund has greenlit $1.4 million (€1.26 million) in emergency support for Ukraine.

The aim of the emergency financing is to help Ukraine deal with its "massive humanitarian and economic crisis."

The financial package provides Kyiv with "critical financial support" to boost the "large-scale mobilization" of funding needed to "mitigate the economic impacts of the war."

"We are immensely grateful to the IMF for its prompt response to our request. We look forward to completing all required procedures as soon as possible," Ukrainian Central Bank Governor Kyrylo Shevchenko said. "It is vital for Ukraine now that it has been going through such a horrible time."

US warns of chemical weapons threat against Ukraine

The White House has called Russia's "false claims about alleged US biological weapons labs and chemical weapons development" in Ukraine "preposterous."

White House spokesperson Jen Psaki wrote on Twitter: "Now that Russia has made these false claims, and China has seemingly endorsed this propaganda, we should all be on the lookout for Russia to possibly use chemical or biological weapons in Ukraine, or to create a false flag operation using them." 

Russia has made several claims in recent days about weapons being developed in Ukraine and said on Wednesday that Ukrainian forces were planning on carrying out a "false flag" chemical attack against their own people and to blame it on Russia.

The US has now warned that this claim could be the pretext to a chemical attack that Russia would call a false flag attack by Ukraine.

Psaki said Russia "has a long and well-documented track record of using chemical weapons" and "of accusing the West of the very violations that Russia itself is perpetrating."

MSC Chairman Christoph Heusgen: 'Putin is in a big dilemma right now'

On the eve of negotiations between the foreign ministers of Russia and Ukraine in Turkey, Munich Security Conference Chairman Christoph Heusgen told DW in an interview that he agreed with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz's rebuff of Polish plans to provide fighter jets to Ukraine.

"It is very important that Germany supports Ukraine and we do a lot, a lot of solidarity: What our citizens do in solidarity, it's enormous, what we do in providing anti-tank missiles, Stinger missiles, this is very important," Heusgen said. "But to provide fighter planes would actually create a danger of a direct confrontation with Russia. And this is something that the chancellor is right [to rule] out."

Heusgen underscored the importance of dialogue, saying that Ukrainian President  Volodymyr Zelenskyy has offered something that is very substantial," as Kyiv offered Russia a "face-saving way out" of "the miserable military situation they are in."

'Putin is in a big dilemma right now'

"Well, I think he he wants what he said. I think that he wants to rebuild the Soviet Union under kind of the Russian flag, and he was totally mistaken," Heusgen said about what Putin wants from the invasion. "He probably believed in what he said that Ukraine is not a real state, that Ukraine is part of Russia, that you have fascists and people, drug addicts there as their rulers. And he has to find out that it's the absolute opposite: They're patriotic, they do have their national identity, they are fighting — and Putin is in a big dilemma right now."

Mariupol on 'the verge of death'

Petro Andryushchenko, advisor to the mayor of Mariupol, spoke to DW about the humanitarian crisis in the city.

"The children's hospital in Mariupol was just attacked by Russian planes, it's been completely destroyed. There's a maternity clinic there, and children," Andryushchenko said. "The number of victims isn't clear yet, rescue workers are still removing the rubble."

He told DW that Russian forces had violated a ceasefire agreement in the city and had blocked the evacuation of civilians.

"There is still no humanitarian corridor for the evacuation of people from the city. The city is on the verge of death," he said.

According to the figures they have available, the authorities believe at least 1,207 people have been killed, but said the death toll may even be as high as 15,000 already.

Ukraine: Russia struck children's hospital

Russian F1 pilot Mazepin starts foundation to aid excluded athletes 

Russian Nikita Mazepin, who was fired by his team Haas F1 Saturday, says he will create a new foundation to assist athletes excluded from competition as punishment for Russia's attack of Ukraine.

Haas also dropped sponsor Uralkali, a company owned by Mazepin's father Dmitry, a close associate of Vladimir Putin. On Wednesday, father and son were added to the EU's sanctions list.

Uralki, which is mulling legal action against Haas over the termination of its sponsoring contract, says it will now use its funds to sponsor the foundation "We Compete as One," which seems to intentionally echo F1's "We Race as One" inclusion motto. Mazepin says, "The foundation will allocate resources, both financial and non-financial, to those athletes who have spent their lives preparing for Olympics or Paralympics, or other top events, only to find that they were forbidden from competing and collectively punished just because of the passports they hold."

On Wednesday, drivers gathered for the start of the season in Bahrain posed for a group photo later posted on Twitter with the words "No War."

Formula 1, which has few qualms more generally about working with authoritarian countries, terminated its contract for the Russian GP on February 25 in the face of driver boycotts. 

'Compromise' on the table ahead of Thursday's high-level talks

Russia's Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov arrived in the Turkish city of Antalya on Wednesday evening, ahead of the first high-level talks with his Ukrainian counterpart Dmytro Kuleba since Russia launched its invasion two weeks ago.

Although delegations from both sides have met three times already to discuss humanitarian ceasefires, Thursday's talks will mark the first time the two countries' top diplomats will meet face-to-face amid open conflict.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy told German newspaper Bild that: "In any negotiation, my goal is to end the war with Russia. And I am also ready to take certain steps."

"Compromises can be made, but they must not be the betrayal of my country," Zelenskyy said.

The talks were announced on Monday by Turkey's Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu and will take place ahead of a diplomatic forum in the coastal city.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov arrives at Serik district to attend the high-level tripartite meeting between Turkey, Russia, and Ukraine
Russia's delegation, headed by Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov landed in Turkey on Wednesday evening ahead of Thursady's high-level talksImage: Mustafa Ciftci/AA/picture alliance

German opposition calls for halt to Russian gas via Nord Stream 1

Germany's conservative Christian Union parties CDU/CSU on Wednesday called on the federal government to go on the offensive against Russian aggression by stopping gas imports from the country via the Nord Stream 1 pipeline.

Opposition leader Friedrich Merz said the move would, "take sanctions to a new level" in the face of "mass war crimes" committed by Russia, saying the opposition is of the opinion that Germany "must accept" limits to gas imports "in light of the situation" in Ukraine.

"We don't want to wait until others suggest it then Germany again plays catch-up," Merz said. "Or wait until Putin turns off the gas."

He and deputy leader Alexander Dobrindt called on the government to lower fuel taxes from 19% down to 7% to soften the blow to consumers. They suggested implementing the measures for three months.

Merz and Dobrindt also criticized the "ideologically driven" steps taken by the government to shut down nuclear power plants, saying it made no sense to shut them down now.

On February 22, two days before Moscow launched its invasion of Ukraine, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz canceled approval of the controversial new $11 billion (€9.93 billion) Russian-German Nord Stream 2 pipeline before gas began to flow through it.

Kremlin admits use of conscripts in invasion

Russia's Defense Ministry has acknowledged that Russian conscripts were sent into Ukraine despite prior repeated denials by President Vladimir Putin.

"Unfortunately, we have discovered several facts of the presence of conscripts in units taking part in the special military operation in Ukraine. Practically all such soldiers have been pulled out to Russia," the Defense Ministry said in a statement.

The alarm was first raised by mothers of soldiers doing mandatory military service who said they had lost contact with their sons shortly after Russia launched its invasion of Ukraine on February 24.

Putin repeatedly claimed that only professional soldiers had been used. On Wednesday the Kremlin admitted that conscripts had indeed been sent in, and that some had been taken captive.

The ministry also said it was launching an investigation to punish those who allegedly disobeyed orders not to use conscripts.

German Catholic Bishops' Conference calls for defense of Europe

German Catholic bishops alarmed at the war raging in Ukraine called for the defense of the European project allowing people to live in free democracies. Speaking at the annual spring plenary of the German Bishops' Conference on Wednesday, Bishop Bertram Meier of Augsburg said: "We value human rights and civic freedoms, we stand for the common security of states and the exchange between them on the basis of binding and fair rules. All of this is under attack with the invasion of Ukraine."

Meier said increased European support for Ukraine amid the threat of escalating military action was, "compatible in principle with the basic Christian teaching of peace."

Meier, who is responsible for foreign policy for the Conference, also defended Pope Francis, who has been criticized for his reluctance to condemn Russian President Vladimir Putin for launching the attack on neighboring Ukraine. He said the pontiff, whose ultimate aim was for the fighting to stop, had been clear in his condemnation of violence but did not want to choose sides.

Bishop Bohdan Dzyurakh, the highest-ranking representative of Ukrainian Catholics in Germany condemned the war as an "act of state terrorism." 

Former US general tells DW time is on Ukraine's side

Ben Hodges, retired US Army officer and the former commander of US forces in Europe, told DW that he believed Ukraine would be able to win against Russia.

"Russia is not going to get into Kyiv," Hodges said, grounding his claim in Moscow's decision to "transition to attrition warfare."

"To do that, you have to have time, you have to have unlimited ammunition and you have to have unlimited manpower. And Russia has none of those three," he said.

The former officer said that Russia was already showing signs of shortages, but these would get worse as sanctions begin to really take their toll "in the next few weeks."

He also rejected the idea that Russia had military superiority, claiming that Ukraine has more manpower and a population that has demonstrated a willingness to resist.

He added that despite Russia's advantage in sea power and airpower, "the logistics is improving for the Ukrainians and it's only getting more difficult for the Russians."

The retired officer also spoke about the plan to send Polish jets to Ukraine and how he thinks the war can be ended, you can watch the full interview here.

Former US general: 'Ukraine is going to win this'

War threatens food supply in Russia, Ukraine and far beyond

Russia and Ukraine, two of the world's largest wheat exporters, announced export shifts amid the ongoing war in Ukraine. Wheat exports from both countries are critical to the global food supply and the moves will likely have a far-reaching effect. 

Ukraine has banned all wheat exports in an effort to avert catastrophe and feed local populations, while Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin said his country must direct wheat supplies to domestic bread production in the face of mounting international sanctions. 

Observers say the situation could be devastating to North African and Middle Eastern countries that are highly dependent on both suppliers and who are already struggling to afford high prices as supply shortages threaten to drive up purchasing costs further still into the unforeseeable future. Currently prices are 55% higher than they were one week before the Russian invasion. 

You can read more about how the war could impact wheat supplies in the Middle East here.  

Ukrainian officials: Attack hits children's hospital

Ukraine has accused Russia of bombing a children's hospital and maternity ward in the beleaguered port city of Mariupol.

Russia had said it would maintain a cease-fire to enable civilians to flee Mariupol and other besieged cities on Wednesday. But the city council said the hospital had been hit more than once.

Ukraine: Children's hospital destroyed

"The Russian occupying forces have dropped several bombs on the children's hospital. The destruction is colossal," it said, adding that it did not yet know casualty numbers.

The report could not immediately be verified, though Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy tweeted: "Direct strike of Russian troops at the maternity hospital. People, children are under the wreckage. 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."

Russia wants to nationalize assets of firms that leave

A Russian government commission has taken the first step towards nationalizing the property of foreign firms that leave the country.

Russia's ruling party, United Russia, said in a statement that the commission on lawmaking activity had approved a bill allowing for firms more than 25% owned by foreigners from "unfriendly states" to be put into external administration. The party said this would be done to prevent bankruptcy and save jobs.

Scholz: Ukraine solution 'certainly doesn't involve' sending Polish jets

In a joint press conference with Canadian PM Justin Trudeau in Berlin, Germany's Olaf Scholz rejected Poland's suggestion to send fighter jets to Ukraine.

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said: "A military solution to the conflict doesn't make any sense, what we need right now is a diplomatic solution."

Responding to a question about possible delivery of Polish fighter jets to Ukraine via the US Ramstein Air Base in Germany, the chancellor emphasized next steps needed to be thought through carefully.

"And that certainly doesn't involve any military planes," Scholz said, also alluding to the defensive military equipment Germany had already dispatched to Ukraine.

Scholz: Germany won't send fighter jets to Ukraine

Poland first said on Tuesday that it was willing to make its fighter jets available, for the US to then deliver to Ukraine's military. Urkainian pilots are trained to fly Soviet-made Mig fighters.

The US has since dismissed the request, with a Pentagon spokesperson saying the plan would raise "serious concerns for the entire NATO alliance."

Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskyy appealed for NATO to reconsider in a video message on Telegram on Wednesday: "We ask you again to decide as soon as possible. Send us planes," he said. 

Ukraine accuses Russia of holding 400,000 'hostage' in Mariupol

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba on Wednesday condemned what he called Russia's "barbaric war on civilians and babies" in an English-language post on Twitter. Kuleba said Moscow was "holding hostage over 400,000 people in Mariupol" and decried the shortage of food and medicine "for almost 3,000 newborn babies" in the city.   

Russia and Ukraine agreed earlier to a new 12-hour ceasefire to allow civilians to flee cities including the southern port of Mariupol, which has been without water and electricity for the past nine days as Russian forces continue to besiege the city.

Progress in establishing safe humanitarian corridors remains limited as hundreds of thousands of civilians remain trapped in cities across Ukraine.

Ukraine to pull troops, equipment from UN missions

A UN official said Ukraine would withdraw its troops and equipment from all UN peacekeeping operations.

Its biggest contribution is to MONUSCO in the Democratic Republic of the Congo where a 250-member aviation unit operates nine helicopters on behalf of the UN.

"At the moment, we are evaluating what impact this retreat could have on our mission and how we can minimize it," a Monusco official told the Reuters news agency.

Ukrainian media reported that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy signed a decree on Tuesday recalling all peacekeeping forces to assist in the war effort at home.

Ukraine contributes about 300 troops, police officers, and staff to six UN missions, but its decision to repatriate aircraft would significantly impact peacekeeping operations.

Two lions rescued from Kyiv arrive in Belgium

Two young lions rescued in Ukraine arrived at a wildlife rehabilitation center in Belgium.

The two were due to be transferred to Belgium in May after the Ukrainian authorities seized them from private owners who had mistreated them.

Russia's invasion of Ukraine meant the transfer had to happen sooner.

The journey was almost cut short, Frederik Thoelen, a biologist who has worked at the Belgium Natuurhulpcentrum shelter, said.

"The Russian army, they pointed their guns at the [Ukranian] carers. They threatened to kill the animals. The carers said, 'No those are our animals. If you touch the animals, you first have to touch us,'" Thoelen told the Reuters news agency.

The lions, called Tsar and Jamil, were driven to Poland and then to Belgium.

The shelter will hold them in quarantine for three months and nurse them back to health before starting to look for permanent homes.

US has declared economic war, Russia says

Russia said the US is waging an economic war against it.

"The United States definitely has declared economic war against Russia and is waging this war," Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said.

It comes after US President Joe Biden announced the US would no longer import Russian oil.

"We will not be part of subsidizing Putin's war," Biden said, describing energy imports as "the main artery of Russia's economy."

Peskov said Russia would remain a reliable energy supplier and pointed out that energy flows continued.

"But you see the bacchanalia, the hostile bacchanalia, which the West has sown — and that, of course, makes the situation very difficult and forces us to think seriously," Peskov said.

Chernobyl without power

Ukraine's state-run nuclear company said Russian Forces had cut a power line supplying electricity to the Chernobyl nuclear power plant.

Chernobyl no longer generates electricity, but it needs the power to help cool spent nuclear fuel.

Energoatom said it was impossible to fix the power line because of ongoing fighting in the area.

Ukraine's energy minister, Herman Halushchenko, said authorities did not know the radiation levels at the site since the Russians took control of it.

On Tuesday, the UN's nuclear watchdog said Chernobyl was no longer transmitting data.

"The Director-General ... indicated that remote data transmission from safeguards monitoring systems installed at the Chornobyl NPP had been lost," the International Atomic Energy Agency said in a statement.

The defunct plant sits inside an exclusion zone that houses decommissioned reactors and radioactive waste facilities.

Russia says not trying to 'overthrow' Ukraine government

Russia claims it does not want to overthrow Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy's government.

The Russian military had not ordered to "overthrow the current government," Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova, said during a press briefing on Wednesday.

Her denial comes after Moscow's often repeated aims to disarm its neighbor and target leaders it calls "neo-Nazis."

Zakharova also said "some progress has been made" in the Russia-Ukraine talks.

On Monday, Zelenskyy said negotiations to resolve the conflict had made little progress.

He also said he was "not hiding" and "not afraid of anyone" as he revealed his location in Kyiv.

Ukrainians prepare to defend Kyiv from attack

New Zealand approves unique sanctions law

New Zealand passed a bill to impose economic sanctions on Russia.

It is a first for the country, which normally only acts following a resolution of the United Nations.

"A bill of this nature has never been brought before our parliament, but it is essential given Russia's vetoing of sanctions through the UN," Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said before it was approved.

The new law, which was rushed through in a single day, targets people, companies, and assets in Russia associated with the invasion.

It will also allow New Zealand to freeze assets and stop superyachts or planes from arriving.

EU to toughen sanctions on Russia, Belarus

The EU agreed to increase sanctions on Russia over its invasion of Ukraine.

The 27-nation bloc also gave the go-ahead to cut three Belarusian banks from the global SWIFT payments system.

The EU included more Russian leaders, oligarchs and their family members in the latest round of penalties.

Sanctions targeting the maritime sector were also approved, the French mission, which holds the EU's rotating presidency, wrote on Twitter.

New bill takes aim at oligarchs

Amnesty International says Chernihiv attack likely a war crime

A Russian airstrike that killed at least 47 civilians in the Ukrainian city of Chernihiv may constitute a war crime, Amnesty International said.

"This was a merciless, indiscriminate attack on people as they went about their daily business in their homes, streets and shops," said Joanne Mariner, Amnesty International's Crisis Response Director.

Russia escalated its air campaign against Ukraine last week, and Thursday's attacks on Chernihiv destroyed high-rise apartments buildings and damaged a clinic and hospital.

Amnesty International's Crisis Response team has concluded the attack was most likely a Russian airstrike using at least eight unguided aerial bombs, known as dumb bombs.

Amnesty was not able to identify a military target at the scene of the strike.

"This shocking attack is one of the deadliest that the people of Ukraine have endured yet. The Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court should investigate this airstrike as a war crime. Those responsible for such crimes must be brought to justice, and victims and their families must receive full reparation." Mariner said.

Corridors open in Ukraine after failed attempt

The Russian military said it would hold fire and open humanitarian corridors in several Ukrainian cities, including the capital, Kyiv.

Separately, Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk, said people would be allowed to evacuate Kyiv, Mariupol, Kharkiv, Chernihiv, and Sumy and warned Russian forces against shooting in those areas.

"I appeal to the Russian Federation: You have undertaken official public commitments to cease fire from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. We have had negative experiences when the commitments that were undertaken did not work," Vereshchuk said.

On Tuesday, at least 5,000 civilians managed to flee from Suny, but Russia and Ukraine accused each other of failing to implement a ceasefire in other cities.

The UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, said thatup to 2.2 million refugees had fled Ukraine since February's Russian invasion.

Mass exodus of Ukrainians head west

Europe won't need Russian gas to get through winter

Europe has enough liquefied natural gas to last it throughout winter, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said.

She told Germany's ARD television the EU wouldn't need to import any gas from Russia.

Von der Leyen said sanctions against Russia were designed to cause a maximum impact on Moscow while causing the least damage possible to Western economies.

On Tuesday, the Commission proposed a plan to free the EU entirely of its Russian gas dependence before the end of the decade.

It will switch to alternative supplies and expand clean energy more quickly.

The US and UK have also announced plans to stop the import of Russian oil.

Map showing Russian gas pipelines to Europe

US Congress agrees on Ukraine aid package

US lawmakers put up a rare united front on Wednesday, agreeing on a bipartisan deal providing $13.6 billion (€12.4 billion) to help Ukraine and European allies.

Democratic and Republican backing for the Ukraine aid package was so staunch it is substantially more than the $10 billion the White House requested.

The aid package is part of a $1.5 trillion funding bill to prevent a US government shutdown.

Party leaders hoped to push the measure through the House on Wednesday and the Senate by the end of the week.

"War in Europe has focused the energies of Congress to getting something done and getting it done fast,'' Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said.

Map showing which parts of Ukraine are controlled by Russian troops

UK strengthens aviation sanctions against Russia

The British government unveiled new aviation sanctions giving it the power to detain any Russian aircraft that enters UK airspace.

Most European nations, including the UK, closed airspace to Russian aircraft last week, but London has now made it a "criminal offense" for Russian planes to fly or land in the country.

"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 said in a statement.

The country also barred exports of aviation or space-related goods to Russia.

Kharkiv resident: 'Strange and terrifying to see Kharkiv like this'

World Bank official: Russia-Ukraine crisis could limit growth and create food insecurity

A World Bank official said that persistently high oil prices resulting from Russia's invasion of Ukraine could cut a full percentage point off of growth in a number of large oil-importing developing economies.

Countries that could be affected include China, Indonesia, South Africa and Turkey, World Bank official Indermit Gill said.

Additionally, a number of economies in Europe, Central Asia, the Middle East and Africa are "heavily reliant on Russia and Ukraine for food," Gill said.

"For lower-income countries, disruption to supplies as well as higher prices could cause increased hunger and food insecurity," he added. "The war has aggravated those uncertainties in ways that will reverberate across the world, harming the most vulnerable people in the most fragile places."

EU countries back Ukraine — but how much?

Thousands of Ukrainian citizens, foreign students evacuate Sumy

Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk said that thousands of civilians had left the northeastern Sumy region, according to the Ukrainian news agency UNIAN.

The corridor out of Sumy will continue to function on Wednesday, regional governor Dmytro Zhyvytskyy confirmed.

Among the evacuees were 5,000 Ukrainians and 1,700 international students, Vereshchuk said, adding that the evacuation was successful due to the mediation of the Red Cross.

The city of Sumy lies some 30 kilometers (18.6 miles) southwest of Ukraine's border with Russia.

According to Vereshchuk, Sumy has been under "total siege" for three days.

Civilians left the city in busses and cars to Poltava during a ceasefire on Tuesday, the only one that held. From Poltava many are expected to go on to the western city of Lviv and to neighboring EU countries.

Sumy is the first city where a humanitarian corridor has been successfully established. In four other cities selected for evacuation, no Nomparable escape route has as of yet been made available.

Some 200,000 people are still waiting to get out of the southeastern port city of Mariupol, according to the Red Cross.

On Wednesday, the Russian military said routes would be open in Kyiv, Mariupol, Kharkiv, Chernihiv, and Sumy for civilians trying to escape besieged cities. However, Ukraine has repeatedly warned Moscow is not genuinely looking to allow civilians to flee.
Zhyvytskyy said Sumy was bombarded overnight.

Military analyst: Russia runs out of steam

Zelenskyy thanks US, UK for ban on Russian oil imports

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy thanked the leaders of the US and UK for banning Russian oil imports in his daily video address.

"This is a powerful signal to the whole world," Zelenskyy said, referring to US President Joe Biden's decision to ban oil imports from Russia.

"Either Russia will respect international law and not wage wars, or it will have no money," he added.

"Every cent paid to Russia turns into bullets and projectiles that fly into other sovereign states," Zelenskyy said.

Zelenskyy called for the war to end through negotiation with Russia saying, "the war must be stopped. We need to sit down at the negotiating table, but for honest, substantive talks."

Pentagon rejects Polish offer to send fighter jets to Ukraine through Germany

The Pentagon has rejected Poland's offer to send its MiG-29 fighter jets to Ukraine via a US airbase in Germany.

Poland's offer would have had Soviet-era MiG-29 fighters sent to the US base in Ramstein, Germany, with the aircraft eventually being given to Ukraine. Poland's air force would have then received F-16 fighters as replacements.

"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," Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said.

Kirby said flying from a US base "into airspace that is contested with Russia over Ukraine raises serious concerns for the entire NATO alliance."

Ukrainians scramble to leave cities

Summary of events in Ukraine-Russia crisis on Tuesday

The International Atomic Energy Agency said that the situation of staff at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant was "deteriorating," as they have been on duty continuously for almost two weeks since Russian forces took control of the area.

Coca-Cola and Pepsi said they were suspending business in Russia. Earlier, McDonald's also suspended operations.

The Russian military said it would offer a Wednesday cease-fire starting at 10 a.m. Moscow time (0700 UTC) to allow civilians to escape four Ukrainian cities.

Ukraine accused Russia of attacking a humanitarian corridor for civilians to leave the southern port city of Mariupol.  

Poland's Foreign Ministry said it was "ready" to deliver MiG-29 planes to the US Ramstein Air Base in Germany, with the aircraft being eventually given to Ukraine.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy received a standing ovation from British lawmakers after addressing the House of Commons by video link. 

Zelenskyy echoed Churchill's WWII speech

The US and the UK announced bans on Russian oil imports. Petroleum company Shell also says it will stop buying Russian oil and gas. 

US intelligence officials released an estimate of between 2,000 and 4,000 Russian soldiers killed since Moscow launched its full-scale invasion of Ukraine, far lower than a claim by the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry that 12,000 "Russian occupying forces" had been killed.

js, jsi, sdi/wd (AP, AFP, Reuters, dpa)