Ukraine: First civilians leave Sumy via safe corridor — live updates

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  • Third round of talks between Ukraine, Russia fails to end conflict  
  • Zelenskyy accuses Russia of impeding evacuation efforts
  • Putin claims ‘conscripts’ not fighting in Ukraine 
  • Several civilians were killed in an overnight airstrike on Sumy 
  • Ukraine claims top Russian general was killed, Kremlin has not yet commented 

Catch up on Monday’s events as Ukraine rejected humanitarian corridors that lead to Russia

This article was last updated at 09:40 UTC/GMT

Humanitarian corridors opened from several Ukrainian cities: Russian Defense Ministry

Corridors allowing the safe evacuation of civilians from the Ukrainian cities of Cherhihiv, Sumy, Kharkiv, Mariupol and the capital, Kyiv, were opened on Tuesday morning, Interfax quoted the Russian Defense Ministry as saying.

The Defense Ministry added that Russian forces in Ukraine had introduced a “silent regime” from 07:00 GMT, Russian news agency Interfax reported.

In comments reported by Reuters news agency, Okeksiy Kuleba, governor of the Kyiv region confirmed that evacuations from the town of Irpin near the capital, Kyiv, had begun.

“As of 09:30 (07:30 UTC), more than 150 people have been evacuated and (evacuation) activities are underway,” Kuleba said.

The Ukrainian Foreign Ministry said evacuations from Sumy were underway.

It also called on Russia to respect its cease-fire regarding the humanitarian corridor.

“We call on Russia to uphold its ceasefire commitment, to refrain from activities that endanger the lives of people and to allow the delivery of humanitarian aid,” the tweet says.

In a letter to the International Red Cross, Ukraine’s deputy prime minister, Iryna Vereshchuk, said there were indications that Russian troops were planning to “disrupt” the corridors.

“Manipulations are being prepared to force people to take another route, which is not coordinated and dangerous,” she said.

MSF: Medical supplies running short in Ukraine

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine was making it increasingly difficult for doctors to treat the injured, Doctors Without Borders (MSF) said on Tuesday.

The supply of hospitals is no longer as good as it was before the fighting began, MSF’s General Director in Germany, Christian Katzer told German public broadcaster ZDF.

Other basic needs, such as food supplies had collapsed in places like Odessa. “Also, important medicines can no longer simply be ordered,” Katzer said.

While the MSF has several teams in Ukraine, they were struggling to provide effective aid.
“At the moment, the situation in many areas of Ukraine is still so confusing that it is not really possible to work,” he said.

DW’s Mathias Bölinger also spoke of the situation in places like Mariupol.

“Mariupol has been shut off for more than a week,” he said. “There are no supplies entering the city, infrastructure damaged, no water, no electricity.”

“Humanitarian corridors, be people getting out of the city or bringing in relief goods into the city, have failed so far. This is definitely one the places where help is bitterly needed,” Bölinger added.

Putin is a ‘spent force’: UK defense secretary

British Defense Secretary Ben Wallace has said Russia’s President Vladimir Putin will lose significance as a global political force whatever the outcome of his invasion of Ukraine.

“Whatever … happens, President Putin is a spent force in the world and he is done, his army is done … and he needs to recognize that,” Wallace told Times Radio. “The international community has united against him … he is in a position where he is going to cause huge economic hardship to his people.”

Wallace said in another interview, this time with Sky News, that the UK would back Poland if it decided to send fighter jets to Ukraine but warned it might lead to Poland itself becoming a target of military action by Russia and others.

“We would protect Poland, we’ll help them with anything that they need,” he said. “Poland will understand that the choices they make will not only directly help Ukraine, which is a good thing, but also may bring them into direct line of fire from countries such as Russia or Belarus.”

He added that the UK would not send warplanes as they would not be usable by Ukrainian pilots. Poland possesses several Soviet-era combat jets that are familiar to Ukrainian military personnel, among them MiG-29s and Sukhoi Su-25s.

Wallace’s comments come ahead of address via video link to the British House of Commons by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, the first by a foreign president to the chamber.

Zelenkskyy is expected to make an impassioned plea for more supplies and military support in his speech, scheduled for 17:00 UTC.

Second wave of refugees from Ukraine will be more vulnerable – UNHCR

A second wave consisting of more vulnerable refugees from Ukraine is likely follow the first wave, the head of the UN refugee agency (UNHCR) said on Tuesday.

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

“That will be a more complex situation to manage for European countries going forward,” adding that “even more solidarity” will be needed in Europe and beyond.

Refugees fleeing Ukraine will need long-term humanitarian support – IRC

The International Rescue Committee (IRC) said the fallout of the war in Ukraine will need long-term humanitarian solutions to support the high influx of refugees fleeing Ukraine.

“Even if the (war) were to stop right now, there would be a  huge amount of humanitarian need both inside Ukraine which would make people want to leave to find safety,” Nancy Dent, Senior Global Communications Officer for the IRC told DW.

“It’s not a situation that’s going to get fixed anytime soon.”

She added: “We need people to be guaranteed access to jobs, able to rent houses, to make sure they can really stand on their own two feet again.”

Beyond physical support, “the trauma support that they’re going to need is also huge,” Dent said.

Approximately 1.2 million refugees from Ukraine have fled to Poland since Russia’s invasion on February 24, including 141,500 on Monday alone, the Polish Border Guard said on Tuesday.

Rescuers say several dead in Russian airstrike in Sumy as planned evacuation announced

Russian planes attacked civilian housing in the Ukrainian city of Sumy on Monday night, killing at least nine people, including two children, rescue services said.

“Enemy planes insidiously attacked apartment buildings,” a Telegram statement from the rescuers said.

Dmytro Zhyvytskyi, the head of Sumy’s regional administration, put the civilian death toll at 10, and said four soldiers were also killed in “unequal combat with the Russian military.”

The information cannot be independently verified.

The report comes as Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk announced on TV that civilians would be able to start leaving the city at 08:00 UTC (10 a.m. local time) under an agreement with Russia on the establishment of a “humanitarian corridor.”

Sumy, some 350 kilometres (217 miles) east of the capital, Kyiv, has been at the center of fierce fighting between Ukrainian troops and invading Russian forces.

Kyiv residents fear Russia might storm the capital

DW’s Mathias Bölinger, reporting from the Ukrainian capital, said people in Kyiv have known that they are a “prime target from day 1 and that Russians would eventually try to storm the capital or to close the ring around the capital.”

Russian forces remained stalled outside of Kyiv as soldiers and volunteers fortified the capital.

“We haven’t seen the Russian line advancing in days,” Bölinger said. “The sites of fighting are still the same and we aren’t seeing any significant advances.”

He added that there was “of course, fear that Russia might regroup and try to storm the capital.”

Hundreds of checkpoints and barricades designed to thwart a takeover have been put in place.

“People here in the capital have prepared,” Bölinger said. “There’s a lot of military in the streets, and roadblocks, etc. But also, many people have fled the capital. There are very few people on the streets. Most people who go out don’t stay a long time on the streets.”

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

Ukraine’s Lviv appeals for help as refugees pour in

The mayor of Lviv has called for assistance as the far western Ukrainian city struggles to accommodate and feed the tens of thousands of people who have fled there from regions under attack from Russian troops.

“We really need support,” Mayor Andriy Sadovyi said. He said his city needed, among other things, big tents equipped with kitchens to prepare food for the more than 200,000 refugees who have arrived in the city.

Hundreds of thousands more people could arrive if humanitarian corridors are opened up to allow the evacuation of civilians from besieged cities.

The historical city, which is the main transit point for those fleeing just across the border to Poland, had a population of 700,000 before the war and was a popular tourist destination.

Some 1.7 Ukrainians have now left their country, many through Lviv, amid what the UN has described as the fastest growing refugee crisis in Europe since World War II.

G7 agriculture ministers to discuss impact of war in Ukraine on food security

Germany says it will host a virtual meeting of agriculture ministers from the G7 group of wealthy democratic nations to discuss the impact that the Russian invasion of Ukraine could have on world food security.

The German minister of agriculture and food, Cem Özdemir, said the meeting on Friday would also focus on how to stabilize food markets.

“The food supply in Germany and the EU is safe, but larger shortages can be expected in some countries outside the EU, especially where they already exist today because of problems such as drought,” he said in a statement.

But he warned that higher prices for agricultural products could not be ruled out in industrialized countries, either.

Özdemir said he had invited the Ukrainian agriculture minister to join the talks as well, along with representatives of the European Commission and international organizations.

Ukraine is the world’s fifth largest exporter of wheat, and Russia the largest. Together, they account for about 30% of traded wheat globally.

Russia offers new cease-fire, proposes humanitarian corridors

Russia is offering a new Ukraine cease-fire for Tuesday, Moscow’s ambassador to the United Nations Vassily Nebenzia said on Monday.

Nebenzia read a statement from Moscow which offered a cease-fire from 10 am Moscow time (0700 GMT), which would allow for the opening of humanitarian corridors to evacuate citizens from Kyiv, Chernihiv, Sumy, Kharkiv and Mariupol.

“This proposal doesn’t have any demands about the citizens being sent necessarily to Russia, into Russian territory,” Nebenzia said.

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

Russia had previously offered to open humanitarian corridors leading to Russian and Belarusian territory, an offer which Kyiv rejected. Ukraine preferred instead that evacuees be sent to western parts of the country, where shelling is not taken place.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has been skeptical of Russian offers for a cease-fire, as previous attempts to evacuate civilians safely have failed.

Cosmetics firm Estee Lauder suspends activities in Russia

Cosmetics firm Estee Lauder said on Monday it was suspending all commercial activities and closing all its stores in Russia.

It will also suspend brand sites and shipments to its retailers in Russia, the company said in a statement.

The statement said that the firm had committed $1 million (€920,000) to relief efforts in Ukraine.

Estee Lauder added that it would continue to provide compensation and support its employees in Russia at this time.

US Congress close to deal on Ukraine aid

The US Congress was on Monday getting close to a deal on a bill to provide Ukraine with billions of dollars in emergency aid.

Proposed US aid for Ukraine and its European allies has grown beyond $12 billion (€11 billion), Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said.

Schumer, a Democrat from New York, said the assistance would pay for refugees, medical and food supplies, weapons transfers to Ukraine and aid for NATO allies.

The bill would also fund the government through to September 30 and provide funds for dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic. Republicans said negotiations are mostly stalling around the COVID-19 funds.

Japan freezes Russian assets as firms withdraw personnel 

Japan’s finance ministry announced on Tuesday that the country had frozen the assets of an additional 32 Russian and Belarusian officials and oligarchs.

The ministry said that Japan was also banning exports of oil refinery equipment to Russia, as well as of Belarus-bound general-purpose items that could be used by its military.

Japanese firms have also started withdrawing personnel from Russia, newspaper The Nikkei reported on Tuesday.

The withdrawal followed a warning issued by the Japanese government due to the war in Ukraine.

The Nikkei reported that Toyota had stopped production at its manufacturing plant in St. Petersburg, while Nissan, Subaru and Mitsubishi Motors were also preparing to recall staff from Russia.

Other Japanese firms in Russia, such as Japan Tobacco, Daio Paper and Nippon Express Holdings, have reduced their staff in the country.

Ukraine claims to have killed Russian general

Ukraine’s military intelligence agency said that a Russian general, identified as Vitaly Gerasimov, was killed in fighting around the city of Kharkiv.

According to Ukraine, Gerasimov had fought in Syria and Chechnya and participated in the Russian seizure of Crimea in 2014.

Christo Grozev, the executive director of Netherlands-based investigative journalism organization Bellingcat, said Gerasimov’s death was confirmed by a Russian source. 

The Russian government has not yet commented on the matter.  

Australia imposes new sanctions on Russian ‘propagandists’

Australia’s Foreign Ministry announced new sanctions on “Moscow’s propagandists and purveyors of disinformation” on Tuesday.

Foreign Minister Marise Payne said that Australia was sanctioning “10 people of strategic interest to Russia for their role in encouraging hostility towards Ukraine.”

“This includes driving and disseminating false narratives about the ‘de-Nazification’ of Ukraine, making erroneous allegations of genocide against ethnic Russians in eastern Ukraine, and promoting the recognition of the so-called Donetsk People’s Republic and Luhansk People’s Republic as independent,” Payne said

According to the statement, financial sanctions will be imposed on the Russia’s armed forces, and six senior Russian military commanders will be met with both financial sanctions and travel bans.

“Together with partners, we will drive Russia out of our economies, supply chains and airwaves,” Payne said.

World Bank approves $723 million package for Ukraine

The World Bank announced on Monday that its executive board had approved a $723 million (€665 million) package of loans and grants for Ukraine. 

The World Bank said the funds would help the Ukrainian government provide critical services, including wages for hospital workers, pensions and social programs.

Included in the package are guarantees from the Netherlands and Sweden, grants from the UK, Denmark, Latvia, Lithuania and Iceland, and parallel financing from Japan.

Summary of events in Ukraine-Russia crisis on Monday

Delegates from Russia and Ukraine met in Belarus on Monday for a third round of talks.

Ukrainian negotiator Mykhailo Podolyak said that the two sides had achieved “small positive [developments]” regarding the logistics of humanitarian corridors. Russian negotiator Vladimir Medinsky said Moscow’s expectations were “not fulfilled.”

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy accused the Russian army of impeding the evacuation of civilians. He refused to leave the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv, saying he was “not afraid” as the fighting rages on.    

Russian President Vladimir Putin said that conscripts and reservists were not being sent to Ukraine, and that Russia was deploying “professionals” that were carrying out “fixed objectives.”

The Pentagon said on Monday that Russia is recruiting Syrians to fight in Ukraine, but did not specify how many.

Meanwhile, the United Nations International Court of Justice (ICJ) in The Hague, Netherlands heard arguments from Ukraine asking the court to stop Russia’s attack on the country. Russia refused to attend the proceedings. 

The UN also called for safe passage of humanitarian aid supplies on Monday. US Ambassador to the UN Linda Thomas-Greenfeld said the world should be ready for a “very long and very difficult road ahead” in Ukraine.    

EU top diplomat Josep Borrell said up to five million refugees could flee to the European Union. 

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said that Germany would keep energy deliveries exempt from sanctions on Russia, citing the need to ensure Europe’s energy supply and maintain the activities of German businesses.

tj, sdi/wd (Reuters, AP, AFP, dpa)

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