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Mariupol evacuations fail for second time

March 6, 2022

The Red Cross says civilian safe passage from the Ukrainian city of Mariupol has been "halted" amid reports of Russian shelling. Meanwhile, anti-war protesters have gathered in Berlin.

 People lie on the floor of a hospital during shelling by Russian forces in Mariupol
Earlier efforts to evacuate civilians from Mariupol were scuppered by cease-fire violationsImage: Evgeniy Maloletka/AP/picture alliance
  • Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy warns that Russia is planning to bombard the port city of Odessa
  • Moscow says it destroyed Ukraine's Starokostiantyniv military air base
  • Mariupol announces a second attempt at civilian evacuations after violence scuppered the first
  • Ukrainian officials, Red Cross say Mariupol evacuations have failed for second day
  • The UN says more than 1.5 million people have fled Ukraine

This article was last updated at 01:00 UTC/GMT

This live updates article is closed.

Ukraine Foreign Minister: 20,000 foreign volunteers

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said that more than 20,000 people from 52 countries had volunteered to fight in Ukraine.

Kuleba said that they will serve in a newly created international legion.

"The whole world today is on Ukraine's side not only in words but in deeds," Kuleba said.

Brent oil price rises

Brent oil prices rose to almost $140 (€129) per barrel on Sunday.

This is the highest price since 2008, when the prices hit $147.50 (€135.60) per barrel.

Accounting firms pull out of Russia

Two major accounting companies announced on Sunday that they were leaving Russia.

Accounting firms KPMG and PwC (also known as PricewaterhouseCoopers) both said that they would end their relationship with Russia-based member firms.

KPMG said it was also pulling out of Belarus.

KPMG has more than 4,500 employees in Russia and Belarus, and PwC said it has 3,700 in its Russian member firm.

Ukraine: Russian forces increase shelling of cities

Russian forces increased the shelling of a number of Ukrainian cities late on Sunday, presidential adviser Oleksiy Arestovich said.

Arestovich said that the outskirts of Kyiv had come under increased shelling. Russian forces also stepped up shelling on Kharkiv, the northern city of Chernihiv and the southern city of Mykolaiv, according to Arestovich.

Arestovich said that the situation in the Kyiv suburbs of Bucha, Hostomel and Iprin was "catastrophic," adding that the government was doing all it could to resume evacuations after previous efforts failed.

Zelenskyy: Sanctions insufficient

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said in a Sunday video statement that current sanctions imposed on Russia are not sufficient.

"The audacity of the aggressor is a clear signal to the West that the sanctions imposed on Russia are not sufficient," Zelenskyy said.

The statement came after Russia announced that its forces would strike Ukraine's military-industrial complex and urged employees at defense industry plants to abandon their workplaces.

"I don't hear even a single world leader react to this," said Zelenskyy, referring to the Russian announcement.

Ukraine's president called for the organizing of a "tribunal" to bring Russia to justice for this action.

UK releases additional Ukraine aid

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced on Sunday that the UK was releasing another $100 million (€92 million) in aid for Ukraine.

The $100 million will be provided via the World Bank. The UK had previously contributed $290 million (€265 million) to Ukraine.

Berlin State Opera hosts charity concert

US' Blinken praises Moldova

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken praised Moldova on Sunday for taking in refugees from Ukraine.

Blinken made the comments after visiting the Moldovan capital of Chisinau.

He added that Moldova had also made progress including "economic growth" and "fighting corruption" since it declared its independence in 1992.

Ukraine: Several hundred thousand must be evacuated

The Ukrainian Presidential office said that several hundred thousand Ukrainians must be evacuated from their towns immediately.

Ukrainian newspaper Ukrayinska Pravda cited the presidential office as saying that there are several dozen towns in eight regions where the humanitarian situation is catastrophic.

According to Ukrayinska Pravda, the presidential office said that Russia was using humanitarian corridors as a pretext to strengthen its military positions.

Moscow Bolshoi Theatre conductor resigns

Tugan Sokhiev, the chief conductor at Moscow's Bolshoi Theatre and the conductor of an orchestra in the French city of Toulouse, announced on Sunday he would resign from both positions.

The announcement came after the mayor of Toulouse had pressed Sokhiev to clarify his attitude toward the Russian invasion of Ukraine, according to local newspaper La Depeche.

"Today I am forced to make a choice and choose one of my musical family over the other. I am being asked to choose one cultural tradition over the other," Sokhiev said in a Facebook post.

"I have decided to resign from my positions as Music Director of Bolshoi Theatre in Moscow and Orchestre National du Capitole de Toulouse with immediate effect."

Russian NGO: more than 4,400 arrested in anti-war protests

More than 4,400 people were arrested on Sunday in various cities in Russia amid anti-war protests, according to Russian human rights organization OWD-Info.

OWD-Info said that 2,035 people had been arrested in Moscow and 1,150 in St Petersburg.

There were anti-war protests in more than 60 cities across Russia.

Netflix halts service in Russia

Netflix announced on Sunday that it is suspending its service in Russia.

The American streaming company cited "circumstances on the ground" in its statement explaining the move.

Ukraine officials: Kharkiv TV tower damaged

Ukrainian officials said that the TV tower in Kharkiv has been damaged in a Russian attack, meaning that television broadcasts have to be shut down for now.

Ukrainian official Oleh Syniehubov told the UNIAN news agency that specialists are on standby to carry out repairs.

More than a million Ukrainian refugees stream into Poland

Poland's Border Guard said over a million refugees from Ukraine have crossed the Polish border. 

"This is a million human tragedies, a million people banished from their homes by the war," the agency wrote on Twitter.

The UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Filippo Grandi, says more than 1.5 million refugees from Ukraine have fled to neighboring countries over the past 10 days.

Most have entered Poland, while others have sought safety in Hungary, Moldova, Slovakia, and Romania.

The number of refugees continued unabated Sunday, even as humanitarian corridors meant to ease the flight of refugees collapsed.

Grandi said the humanitarian corridors were also critical to allowing basic goods to be delivered to those in need and evacuate the most vulnerable.

"But what is needed really is a cease-fire, the end of hostilities, because that's the only way to stop this tragedy,'' Grandi said.

Maternity wards double as bomb shelters

Denmark considers joining EU defense pact and boosts defense spending

Denmark will hold a referendum in June to decide whether to join the European Union's defense pact.

Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen said Russia's invasion of Ukraine drove the decision to hold the vote. 

Denmark would also spend 7 billion crowns ($1 billion, €939 million) over the next two years to strengthen the country's defense.

It was "the largest investment in Danish defense in recent times," Frederiksen said.

The country would also increase its defense spending gradually to reach 2% of GDP by 2033.

"Historic times call for historic decisions," the prime minister said.

Danes opted out of the European Union's Common Security and Defence Policy in 1992, but the referendum could change that.

It would enable Denmark to participate in joint EU military operations and cooperate on development and acquisition of military capabilities within the EU framework.

"Putin's pointless and brutal attack on Ukraine has heralded a new era in Europe, a new reality," Frederiksen said.

Mariupol ceasefire broken

TikTok cut off live streaming and new content posts in Russia.

TikTok is suspending live streaming and new content to its video service in Russia after the Kremlin introduced a new law that could jail anyone intentionally spreading "fake" news. 

The video-sharing app said it "provide(s) a source of relief and human connection during a time of war" but was concerned about the safety of its staff and users in Russia.

"We will continue to evaluate the evolving circumstances in Russia to determine when we might fully resume our services with safety as our top priority," the company said.

Israel's Bennett calls Putin and Zelenskyy again

Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett says the chances of stopping fighting in Ukraine were "not great."

He spoke by phone Sunday evening with Russian President Vladimir Putin, a day after his trip to Moscow.

Bennett said Israel would continue trying to mediate between Russia and Ukraine even if success seems unlikely.

"The moment there is even a small opening, and we have the access to all sides and the capability, I see it as a moral duty to make every attempt," he told his cabinet during a televised speech.

The Israeli prime minister's office said he had spoken three times over the weekend with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.

Bennett also called German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, whom he visited in Berlin on Saturday, and French President Emmanuel Macron.

No further details were made public.

Israel is one of the few countries that has good working relations with both Russia and Ukraine.

Russian troops 'performing very poorly': European security expert Edward Arnold

American Express latest to suspend Russian operations

American Express joined Visa and Mastercard to suspend its operations in Russia.

"Globally issued American Express cards will no longer work at merchants or ATMs in Russia. Additionally, cards issued locally in Russia by Russian banks will no longer work outside of the country," American Express said in a statement. 

The company also said it is terminating all business operations in Belarus.

On Saturday, Visa and Mastercard, two of the world's largest payment networks, said their cards issued by Russian banks would stop functioning overseas.

However, they would continue to operate through a state-owned processing system in Russia until they expire.

Russia's central bank said that some local lenders would look to use China's UnionPay system instead.

IAEA concerned staff at Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant are taking orders from Russian officers

Staff at the biggest atomic power plant in Europe is under the commander of the Russian forces, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said on Sunday. 

"I'm extremely concerned," IAEA chief Rafael Grossi said in a statement.

Ukraine's nuclear regulator told the IAEA it was hard to get reliable information from the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant as Russian forces have switched off some mobile networks and the internet.

"In order to be able to operate the plant safely and securely, management and staff must be allowed to carry out their vital duties in stable conditions without undue external interference or pressure," Grossi said.

Grossi said it also seems like workers at Chernobyl have not been able to rest since 23 February.

He stressed the importance of operating staff being able to rest to carry out their essential jobs "safely and securely."

Grossi again offered to fly to Chernobyl to meet with Russian and Ukrainian authorities to secure the nuclear plants in the country.

Guterres calls for a temporary cease-fire

The UN Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres, called for a "pause in the fighting" in Ukraine. 

He said it would give civilians a chance to evacuate from battle zones, "and to ensure life-saving humanitarian supplies can move in for those who remain."

On Sunday, a second attempt to establish a humanitarian corridor out of the besieged Ukrainian city of Mariupol failed.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy warned more civilian lives were at risk as Russian troops prepared to attack Odessa.

According to a Kremlin statement, Russian President Vladimir Putin earlier told Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan that the invasion could be halted only "if Kyiv ceases hostilities."

'Extraordinary drama' in Mariupol: DW's Nick Connolly reports from Kyiv

Macron tells Putin fighting around Ukraine's nuclear plants off-limits

French President Emmanuel Macron urged his Russian counterpart to ensure the safety of Ukraine's nuclear sites.

Macron spoke to Vladimir Putin for nearly two hours on Sunday. 

The French president's office said he told Putin nuclear facilities must not be targeted by Russian forces or caught in the fighting.

Earlier in the week, a Russian strike on the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant caused global alarm.

Putin said "it was not his intention" to attack nuclear sites and agreed on the principle of a "dialogue" between the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Ukraine and Russia about the future of the plants.

The Russian president blamed Ukrainians for failed attempts to evacuate civilians from the southern cities of Mariupol and Volnovakha.

Macron again urged Putin to find a negotiated settlement to the Ukraine crisis.

Putin told Macron that Russia would achieve its aims through "negotiation or war."

UN confirms over 350 civilian deaths

The United Nation's human rights office reported 364 confirmed cases of fatalities and 759 confirmed cases of injuries among civilians in Ukraine as of Saturday night.

Due to a strict methodology for counting cases, only confirmed cases are reported, but the office added that the real numbers are probably much higher, "especially in government-controlled territory and especially in recent days."

The number reported by Ukrainian authorities are much higher. More than 1.5 million people have fled the country since the invasion began.

Kremlin cracks down on more independent news outlets

Several independent online news outlets on Sunday were blocked or forced to shut down in Russia due to new repressive laws.

The Russian news site Mediazona, which covers the police and justice system, said that it had been told to delete its website.

"We were prepared for this. In recent days, military censorship has been effectively introduced in Russia, and there are almost no independent media left in the country. We understand all our risks, but we continue to work — this is our duty to our readers and to ourselves,'' Mediazona said in a statement.

The new law, signed by Russian President Vladimir Putin, criminalizes what the Kremlin considers to be "fake" reports, with those found guilty facing up to 15 years in prison.

Russian authorities have repeatedly denied reports of civilian casualties in Ukraine and have even claimed attacks on residential areas were carried out by the Ukrainians themselves.

Even Novaya Gazeta, whose editor-in-chief Dimitry Muratov won the Nobel Peace Prize last year, has said it has also had to stop reporting on the war.

Russian anti-war protests continue despite crackdown

People took to the streets in major Russian cities on Sunday to call for an end to the war in Ukraine despite thousands of arrests and increasing threats from the Kremlin. 

The Anti-Corruption Foundation, the non-profit organization set up by jailed activist Alexei Navalny, shared videos of protests in Saint Petersburg and Moscow on social media.

Russian authorities have tried to repress anti-war sentiment in the country as well as reports of Russian losses, which they have branded as "fake news."

Police have also been arresting thousands of people at the anti-war demonstrations. The independent Russian human rights group OVD-Info has been keeping a tally of the number of arrests which on Sunday surpassed 10,000, according to their count, but this figure cannot be independently verified.

US says reports of Russian war crimes are 'credible'

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said reports that Russia has deliberately targeted civilians, and thus has committed war crimes, are "very credible."

"We've seen very credible reports of deliberate attacks on civilians, which would constitute a war crime," Blinken told CNN.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen followed suit, calling for an investigation into possible war crimes committed by Russian forces.

"I think there needs to be a strong and clear investigation on this question," von der Leyen told CNN, according to Reuters.

Blinken has been visiting NATO member states in Eastern Europe that have been receiving Ukrainian refugees. He spoke on Sunday from Moldova, a former Soviet state that is neither part of NATO nor the EU.

Blinken also told CNN that he has been discussing the option of ceasing imports of Russian oil with his European partners.

"We are now talking to our European partners and allies to look in a coordinated way at the prospect of banning the import of Russian oil while making sure that there is still an appropriate supply of oil in world markets, he said. 

"That's a very active discussion as we speak."

US, Poland consider Ukraine fighter jet deal

Mariupol cease-fire once again falls apart

The second attempt at a cease-fire at the Ukrainian coastal city of Mariupol for the evacuation of civilians has failed, Anton Gerashchenko, an adviser to Ukraine's interior minister, said on Telegram.

"The second attempt at a humanitarian corridor for civilians in Mariupol ended again with bombardment from the Russians," he wrote.

A reporter for the German broadcaster ZDF, Katrin Eigendorf, confirmed the report. "The announced cease-fire, that was supposed to allow people to be evacuated from Mariupol, has failed," she said. "They have opened fire again — against civilians." 

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) also said civilian safe passage from Mariupol has been "halted."

"Amid devastating scenes of human suffering in Mariupol, a second attempt to start evacuating an estimated 200,000 people out of the city came to a halt," the ICRC said in a statement.   

Russian President Vladimir Putin, in a call with French President Emmanuel Macron, blamed the Ukrainian government for the failed evacuations.   

An earlier report from Russian news sources, citing Russian-backed separatists, had claimed that some 300 people had been evacuated during the ceasefire.

Russian forces have surrounded the city and the civilians trapped there are facing a lack of water, food, heating and electricity.

Protesters in Berlin call for an end to the war

Anti-war protesters in Berlin have begun marching through the German capital under the motto "Stop Putin — Stop the War."

The demonstration was organized by Russian, Belarusian, Ukrainian, German and other activist groups, local newspaper Berliner Zeitung reported.

Anti-war protest in Berlin – DW's Matthew Moore reports

Berlin saw vast numbers of people take to the streets last weekend in protest against the Russian invasion, with some reports putting the number of participants at half a million people.

DW's Matthew Moore spoke to protesters in Berlin. 

One person said that she felt "bad for being here" since her family and friends are still back in Ukraine, she added that the Ukrainian people know "they are not alone." 

DW's Teri Schulz was at a similar protest in Belgium where marchers were calling for a no-fly zone over Ukraine, something that NATO has already ruled out.

Russian rockets destroy Ukrainian regional civilian airport: Zelenskyy

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy says the civilian airport of the central-western regional capital of Vinnytsia has been devastated by Russian rockets. 

"I have just been informed about a missile strike on Vinnytsia. Eight rockets ... The airport was completely destroyed," he said.

Earlier, there had been reports that emergency services were trying to extinguish fires at the airport.

Pope calls for end to 'rivers of blood and tears' in Ukraine

Pope Francis has called for an end to the fighting in Ukraine, saying that “there are rivers of blood and tears flowing” in the country.

"This is not just a military operation, but a war that sows death, destruction and suffering," Francis told worshippers in St Peter's Square in Rome, thus challenging Russia's claim that its invasion of Ukraine is a mere “special mission.” However, as he has failed to do in all the 11 days of the conflict so far, he did not condemn Russia by name for its assault.

Francis also said he had sent two cardinals to Ukraine, saying that “the Holy See is willing to do everything to put itself in service for peace.”

The two are Cardinal Konrad Krajewski, the papal almsgiver, who has been dispatched with aid, and Cardinal Michael Czerny, who is head of the papal office that deals with migration, charity, justice and peace.

Refugees welcome at German-Polish border

Turkey calls for 'urgent ceasefire'

Turkish state news agency Anadolu on Sunday reported that President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has called for urgent steps to be taken to ensure a ceasefire.

Erdogan is reported to have said this during a phone call with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

The Turkish president is also reported to have called for the opening of a humanitarian corridor and a peace agreement to be signed.

According to Russia's Foreign Ministry, Putin said that the operation "is going according to plan and in accordance with the schedule."

The statement went on to say that there was willingness from Russia to have dialogue with Ukrainian authorities, and called for a "more constructive approach" from Kyiv.

More than 1,000 anti-war protesters arrested in Russia: OVD-Info

More than 1,000 people protesting at Russian President Vladimir Putin's invasion of Ukraine were detained at protests on Sunday in 29 cities across Russia, an independent Russian-based group monitoring protests said.

OVD-Info said some of these arrests took place in the Pacific port city of Vladivostok and the Siberian city of Irkutsk.

It said that as of 1140 UTC, at least 9,478 protesters had been arrested since the invasion began on February 24.

Russia has harsh anti-protest legislation entailing high penalties for offenders.

So far, this fact and Moscow's growing censorship of international media outlets challenging the Kremlin's narrative of a legitimate military action have meant that anti-war protests in Russia have not reached the dimensions of those in many other countries. However, protests have nonetheless have been taking place regularly across the nation.

The Interior Ministry warned on Saturday that any attempt to hold unauthorized rallies would be prevented and the organizers held liable.

Jailed Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny has called for daily protests in Russia and across the world against the invasion.

Russia continues to pump gas through Ukraine

Russian gas is still flowing through pipelines that run through Ukraine and into central Europe, the state-owned company Gazprom said on Sunday according to Russian news agency Interfax.

Over 100 million cubic meters of gas is expected to flow on Sunday.

"Gazprom fulfills the supply of Russian gas for transit through the territory of Ukraine at the usual capacity and according to the requirements of European consumers," company spokesperson Sergei Kupriyanov was quoted as saying.

Despite the raft of sanctions aimed at the Russian economy, European countries continue to buy their gas from Moscow, even fearing that the Kremlin may turn off the tap in retaliation.

Other gas pipelines that supply Ukraine have been damaged, leaving hundreds of thousands of people without access.

Shortly after Russia launched its invasion, Germany canceled the controversial Nord Line 2 pipeline that was set to pump more gas directly into Germany, bypassing Ukraine and other countries.

Berlin also said it would speed up its detachment from relying on Russian fossil fuels.

Part of a gas pipeline in Ukraine
Russia has built a new pipeline to avoid its natural gas transiting through Ukraine, but the project has been shelvedImage: Sergey Dolzhenko/epa/dpa/picture-alliance

Zelenskyy warns of 'historic crime' in Odessa

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said on Sunday that Russian forces were preparing to bombard the major port city of Odesa.

"This is going to be a military crime. This is going to be a historic crime," he said in a televised address.

Russian troops entering Ukraine from the Crimean peninsula — territory occupied by Russia since 2014 — have advanced along the coast, having taken control of Kherson and laid siege to other coastal cities, but so far Odesa has largely been spared.

The population of Odesa is close to 1 million people, including both Ukrainian and Russian speakers as well as sizeable Bulgarian and Jewish minorities. It has also been a hot spot for Russian tourists.

"Russians have always come to Odesa. They have always felt only warmth in Odesa. Only sincerity. And now what?" Zelenskyy said in his address.

Volunteers line up to join Ukrainian army

Over 1.5 million people flee Ukraine: UN

The number of refugees who have crossed the border from Ukraine into neighboring countries has surpassed 1.5 million, the UN's High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi said on Twitter.

The number of refugees has risen rapidly in the first 10 days of the conflict. Grandi said it is "the fastest-growing refugee crisis in Europe since World War II."

People fleeing the invasion have crossed into various countries, with the majority entering EU member state Poland. Warsaw says that almost 800,000 people have arrived since the beginning of the conflict.

Moldova, which shares a large border with Ukraine but is not an EU member state, said that 250,000 people, including 30,000 children, had crossed into the country and that it needed urgent international assistance to support them.

Greece also said on Sunday that some 3,700 people had arrived in the country from Ukraine. Around 100,000 ethnic Greeks live in Ukraine and Athens has pledged extra support to evacuate them. Many Ukrainians also moved to Greece after the fall of the Soviet Union and many of the new arrivals were reportedly staying with relatives, dpa new agency reported

'We need the world to wake up': Former Ukrainian MP Hanna Hopko talks to DW

Ukraine conflict could 'last months, if not years': UK deputy PM

Britain's Deputy Prime Minister Dominic Raab said on Sunday that opponents of Moscow's invasion of Ukraine will have to show "strategic stamina" if they want Russian President Vladimir Putin to fail.

"Our mission with our allies is to ensure Putin fails in Ukraine, and it's going to take some time — we're talking about months, if not years,” he told UK broadcaster Sky News.

When asked about Putin's seeming veiled threat of possibly using nuclear weapons, Raab said, "(Putin's) got a track record as long as anyone's arm of misinformation and propaganda ... this is a distraction from what the real issues are at hand — which is that it's an illegal invasion and it is not going according to plan."

Just under a week ago, Putin ordered his military to put Russia’s nuclear deterrence forces on high alert. It remains unclear exactly what this means on the ground and is seen by many as the response of a leader frustrated at the progress of his military plans amid strong Ukrainian resistance.

Ukraine claims big Russian losses

The general staff of the Ukrainian armed forces has put the number of Russian troops killed so far at 11,000. The number stood at 10,000 on Saturday, the military said. DW is unable to verify those figures.

Russian authorities on Wednesday claimed that a much lower number of soldiers had been killed in the invasion — fewer than 500.

On the 11th day of the war, Russian gains include the key city of Kherson in the south. Russian forces have also surrounded the cities of Kharkiv — Ukraine's second-largest city, Mykolaiv, Chernihiv and Sumy. But these remain largely or partly in Ukrainian hands.

A mileslong convoy of Russian troops and equipment that had been headed to the capital Kyiv is still blocked on the highway, according to recent reports.

Ukraine's main port city Odesa is also still under Ukrainian control, with local forces holding out against Russian ships in the Black Sea.

The dpa news agency cited the Defense Ministry in Moscow as saying that Russian troops and separatist rebels from Luhansk and Donetsk had advanced some 11 kilometers (6.8 miles) and taken control of five towns and villages.

Infografik/Map - What parts of Ukraine are controlled by Russian troops? - EN

Mariupol to make second attempt at evacuations

The city council of Mariupol, the port city close to Ukraine's eastern border with Russia, has announced a new cease-fire with the Russian forces currently surrounding the city.

The planned pause in hostilities will last from 12 p.m. local time (1000 UTC) until 9 p.m on Sunday. The authorities are hoping to evacuate the 400,000 people who are trapped in the city without access to food, water and heating.

The announced cease-fire follows a failed attempt on Saturday that was abandoned after both the Ukrainians and Russians accused each other of violations during the agreed period.

Second evacuation attempt in Mariupol fails: DW's Mathias Bölinger in Kyiv

WHO condemns attacks on health care facilities in Ukraine

The World Health Organization confirmed several attacks on health care centers in Ukraine, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus tweeted on Sunday.

The attacks led to multiple deaths and injuries, he added.

Ghebreyesus said that they were investigating other similar reports and condemned the attacks on health care facilities and workers, saying they ''breach medical neutrality and are violations of international humanitarian law.''

'Fierce' fighting in Mykolaiv: Ukrainian military

Airstrikes and fighting continued in Ukraine on Sunday amid Russia's invasion, with the Ukrainian military reporting "fierce battles" with Russian troops around the southern city of Mykolaiv.

The city is important strategically, as it controls the road to the key Black Sea city of Odesa.

This comes as Russia reported that it had destroyed Ukraine's Starokostiantyniv military air-base with long-range weapons. The report has not been verified.

War violates all moral laws – Ukrainian human rights lawyer Oleksandra Matviichuk

Fighting is also continuing for the northern city of Chernihiv, while an expected Russian advance on Kyiv has reportedly been preceded by airstrikes on the towns of Bucha and Irpin that have forced civilians to flee.

The situation in the Black Sea city of Mariupol, which is now without water or power amid Russian shelling, has meanwhile been called “catastrophic” by the organization Doctors Without Borders (MSF).

Officials in the city said they had to delay the evacuation of civilians on Saturday after an agreed cease-fire broke down, but Moscow has contradicted their version of events, saying that it was Ukrainian “nationalists” preventing the civilians leaving.

Evacuations of two Ukrainian cities delayed

Israel's PM returns home after surprise Russian trip

Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett is back in Israel after a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin that took place “with the blessing” of the US Biden administration, according to Bennett's office.

Bennett, whose country has been striving to maintain good relations with both Russia and Ukraine despite Moscow's invasion of its neighbor, spoke with the Kremlin leader for three hours. No details of their conversation have been released

He then spoke with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy before flying on to Germany to meet Chancellor Olaf Scholz.

"We continue to dialogue," the Ukrainian leader tweeted after his talk with Bennett.

 After his return, Bennett said his country would continue negotiating with Russia even though he held out little chance of success.

"We will continue to assist wherever this is requested, even if the chances are not great," he said in televised remarks. "The moment there is even a small opening, and we have the access to all sides and the capability, I see it as a moral duty to make every attempt."

Ukraine has asked Israel to act as an intermediary between Kyiv and Moscow, as the country has good relations with both governments.

Israel tries to maintain good ties with Russia partly to ensure that warplanes from the two countries do not come into conflict in Syria. However, it has also delivered humanitarian aid to Ukraine, though no weapons.

Israel's Bennett visits Berlin after meeting with Putin

Russia 'surprised' by Ukrainian resistance: UK military intelligence

Russia has been attacking several populated areas in response to a Ukrainian resistance that is stronger than Moscow expected, British military intelligence said.

According to an update on Sunday, "the scale and strength of Ukrainian resistance continue to surprise Russia," with Russian forces responding by targeting "populated areas in multiple locations, including Kharkiv, Chernihiv and Mariupol."

Ukrainian media have said blasts were heard overnight in Kharkiv, the second-largest city.

Kyiv is a 'ghost town' – DW's Nick Connolly

The update compared Russia's tactics with those it used in Chechnya in 1999 and Syria in 2016. Civilian areas in both countries suffered widespread devastation from aerial and artillery attacks.

The report contradicts Moscow's repeated assertions that it is not targeting civilians and civilian infrastructure.

It also said that Ukrainian attacks on supply lines were slowing the Russian advance.

Most Germans want ex-Chancellor Schröder barred from SPD: Survey

A majority of Germans would like to see former Chancellor Gerhard Schröder barred from his party, the ruling Social Democrats (SPD), for his connections to Russian President Vladimir Putin and leading positions at Russian energy firms.

A survey by the Insa polling institute carried out for the Sunday tabloid Bild am Sonntag showed that 74% of respondents overall wanted Schröder thrown out — a figure that rose to 82% among SPD voters.

A total of 75% (or 79% of SPD voters) want Schröder's pension and expenses from his time as chancellor to be canceled if he does not give up his jobs in Russian firms.

Schröder congratulating Putin on his 53rd birthday
Schröder's friendship with Putin goes back many years; this picture was taken in 2005Image: EPA/ITAR-TASS/dpa/picture alliance

Schröder is head of the supervisory board of the Russian state energy company Rosneft and also holds leading positions in the now shelved Nord Stream 2 pipeline project.

Many people in Germany still remember a 2004 interview in which Schröder was asked whether Putin was a "flawless democrat." The former chancellor responded: "Yes, I'm convinced that he is."

Senior US officials travel to Venezuela for first time in years

Senior US officials traveled to Venezuela on Saturday to meet with the government of Nicolas Maduro, The New York Times reported.

The trip marks the first high-level visit by US officials to Venezuela's capital, Caracas, in years, as Washington steps up efforts to isolate Russia on the world stage.

The US cut diplomatic relations with Venezuela in 2019 after accusing Maduro of electoral fraud. 

Some in the US believe Venezuela could potentially become a security threat given its close ties to Russia. 

The New York Times also reported that some Republican officials have been involved in talks with Venezuelans to restart the oil trade between the two countries. Such a move could reduce US oil imports from Russia. 

Scholz meets Israel's Bennett in Berlin

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz met Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett in Berlin on Saturday evening, German government spokesman Steffen Hebestreit said.

The 90-minute conversation between the leaders focused on Bennett's talks with Russian leader Vladimir Putin on Saturday, Hebestreit said in a statement. 

The goal remains to end the war in Ukraine as quickly as possible, Hebestreit added.

Bennett met Putin in Moscow on Saturday, after having coordinated the meeting with the United States, France and Germany, according to an Israeli official.

Israel, at the behest of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, has offered to mediate in the conflict between Russia and Ukraine, though officials have played down expectations of any major breakthrough. 

Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty close Russian operations

Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) suspended operations in Russia after local tax authorities initiated bankruptcy proceedings against the US-funded broadcaster's Russian entity on Thursday and police intensified pressure on its journalists, RFE/RL said in a statement.

"It is with the deepest regret that I announce the suspension of our physical operations in Moscow today. This is not a decision that RFE/RL has taken of its own accord, but one that has been forced upon us by the Putin regime's assault on the truth," RFE/RL President and CEO Jamie Fly said in the statement.

"Following years of threats, intimidation and harassment of our journalists, the Kremlin, desperate to prevent Russian citizens from knowing the truth about its illegal war in Ukraine, is now branding honest journalists as traitors to the Russian state," Fly added.

Zelenskyy speaks with Biden

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy announced that he spoke on the phone with US President Joe Biden on Sunday.

 "As part of the constant dialogue, I had another conversation with @POTUS," Zelenskyy said."The agenda included the issues of security, financial support for Ukraine and the continuation of sanctions against Russia."

Minister: Germany will take in refugees from Ukraine regardless of nationality

In an interview for the German weekly Bild am Sonntag, Interior Minister Nancy Faeser said Germany will take in refugees from Ukraine regardless of their nationality.

"We want to save lives. That doesn't depend on the passport," Faeser said.

"The vast majority of those who fled are Ukrainian nationals. People from other countries who already had a permanent right of residence in Ukraine bring this status with them," Faeser explained.

"They don't have to go through a complex asylum procedure either."

Faeser described European cooperation in helping refugees from Ukraine as "historic."

The minister's statement came amid reports, including from the United Nations, that non-white people have faced racist and xenophobic treatment while trying to flee Ukraine.

Zelenskyy urges Ukrainians to fight

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy urged Ukrainians to drive Russian troops out of the country.

"We have to go outside! We have to fight! Whenever there is an opportunity," Zelenskyy said in a video message.

Zelenskyy added that ordinary, unarmed people had opposed Russian units in several cities, including the southern port city of Kherson. He said it was important to prevent the establishment of more pro-Russian so-called "people's republics" on Ukrainian territory similar to the two currently self-declared in eastern Ukraine.

Addressing the people of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions, Zelenskyy said that if Russians "have not erased you memory through propaganda, if your eyes are not closed in fear - fight, for your rights, you freedom, for Ukraine."

Summary of events in Ukraine-Russia crisis on Saturday

Russia said it resumed attacks on the cities of Mariupol and Volnovakha after having accused Ukraine of breaking the cease-fire deal. Ukraine claimed that Russian shelling had not stopped after the cease-fire was announced.

Russian President Vladimir Putin accused Ukrainian forces of sabotaging the cease-fire effort, claiming that the actions of Ukraine's leadership called into question the future of the country's statehood.

Ukraine, Russia both claim cease-fire violations

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy spoke with the US lawmakers over Zoom, calling for them to support a no-fly zone over Ukraine and making a "desperate plea" for the US to send more planes.

Over 1.3 million people have fled Ukraine since the Russian invasion began at the end of last month. 

Credit card companies Visa and MasterCard announced separately that they were suspending operations in Russia.

Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett met with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow, offering to mediate to end the war.

tj, ab,sdi/mm, jsi (dpa, AP, Reuters, AFP)