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2.8m people have now fled Russian invasion as UN chief says: ‘Ukraine is on fire. The country is being decimated before the eyes of the world’

Russia’s war against Ukraine has displaced almost 5 million people both inside and out of the country, the head of the United Nations said, adding that the conflict may sow instability around the globe.

eanwhile, U.S. National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan started talks on Monday with China’s top diplomat, according to sources, the first of their kind since Russia’s invasion. The discussions in Rome come as the Biden administration seeks to enlist Beijing’s help in exerting influence on President Vladimir Putin to end the war.

A fourth day of talks between Ukrainian and Russian negotiators also paused so each side could take stock. Russia may also suspend grain exports starting Tuesday, the Interfax news service reported, driving wheat prices higher.

At least 1.9 million people have been driven from their homes inside Ukraine by Russia’s invasion, with the country’s neighbours taking in more than 2.8 million refugees in the past two weeks, United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres told reporters on Monday. Hundreds of thousands more are without water and electricity, he said.

The UN will allocate a further $40 million from the Central Emergency Response Fund to ramp up vital assistance to reach the most vulnerable. “Ukraine is on fire. The country is being decimated before the eyes of the world. The impact on civilians is reaching terrifying proportions,” Guterres said.

The conflict is sowing instability around the world, particularly in developing countries struggling to recover from the pandemic that now face “record inflation, rising interest rates and looming debt burdens,” he said. “Now their breadbasket is being bombed.”

The Indo Daily: From TV President to Ukraine’s Wartime Leader – Who is Volodymyr Zelensky?


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Shutting down energy imports from Russia might not work as a last-resort tool to stop Russia’s invasion, German Finance Minister Christian Lindner told reporters in Brussels ahead of a meeting of euro-area finance ministers.

“All options are on the table, but we have to seriously consider which means put pressure on Putin and which means could harm ourselves more,” he said in response to a question on whether Germany would consider a two-week halt in imports. “From my perspective, a ban would not have the effect on the current situation in Ukraine as we all would hope.”

Ukraine was able to evacuate more than 4,000 people from front-line cities on Monday via seven humanitarian corridors, deputy prime minister Iryna Vereshchuk has said.

She said three other humanitarian corridors did not operate successfully and she accused Russian forces of firing on civilians who were evacuating in the Kyiv region.

Russia has repeatedly denied firing on civilians.

Russia and Ukraine kept a fragile diplomatic path open with a new round of talks on Monday even as Moscow’s forces pounded away at Kyiv and other cities across the country in a punishing bombardment the Red Cross said has created “nothing short of a nightmare” for civilians.

The latest negotiations, held via video conference, were the fourth round involving higher-level officials from the two countries and the first in a week. The talks ended without a breakthrough after several hours, with an aide to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy saying the negotiators took “a technical pause” and planned to meet again Tuesday.

The two sides had expressed some optimism in the past few days. Mykhailo Podolyak, the aide to Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky, tweeted that the negotiators would discuss “peace, ceasefire, immediate withdrawal of troops & security guarantees.”

Previous discussions, held in person in Belarus, produced no lasting humanitarian routes or agreements to end the fighting.

Russian troops refocused their efforts to seize Kyiv on Monday, firing artillery on suburbs, a local official said on Ukrainian television. The official also said a town councilor for Brovary, east of Kyiv, had been killed in fighting there and shells fell on the towns of Irpin, Bucha and Hostomel, which have seen some of the worst conflict during Russia’s stalled attempt to take the capital.

Two people were killed when artillery hit a nine-story residential building in a northern district of the city early Monday, destroying apartments on several floors and igniting a fire. Ukrainian authorities said two people died and seven were injured after Russian forces struck an airplane factory in Kyiv, sparking a large fire.

Air raid alerts sounded in cities and towns all around the country overnight, from near the Russian border in the east to the Carpathian Mountains in the west.

The office of the Ukrainian President reported on Monday that airstrikes hit residential buildings near the important southern city of Mykolaiv, as well as in the eastern city of Kharkiv. Explosions also rang out overnight around the Russian-occupied Black Sea port of Kherson.

Russia’s military said 20 civilians were killed by a Ukrainian ballistic missile strike on Monday in the eastern city of Donetsk, in the separatist Donetsk region. The claim couldn’t be independently verified.

But overall, nearly all of Russia’s offensives remained stalled Monday after making little progress over the weekend, according to a senior U.S. defence official who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the Pentagon’s assessment. The official said Russian forces have launched more than 900 missiles but Ukraine’s airspace is still contested, and Russia has not achieved total air superiority.

TV protest

An anti-war protester interrupted the main news programme on Russia’s state TV Channel One on Monday, holding up a sign behind the studio presenter with slogans denouncing the war in Ukraine.

The sign, in English and Russian, read: “NO WAR. Stop the war. Don’t believe propaganda. They are lying to you here.” Another phrase, which looked like “Russians against war”, was partly obscured.

Russia has enacted strict laws forbidding protest against the war.

Irish aid

The Irish Government has sent 5,000 ready-to-eat meals and 200 units of body armour to Ukraine.

It is the first time in the 21st Century that Ireland has provided material to another army when it is actively engaged with an enemy in outright hostilities.

The Department of Foreign Affairs said Minister Simon Coveney approved the additional support for the war-torn State in response to a direct request from Ukraine for specifically defined non-lethal equipment, including the items now being provided.

Minister Coveney has confirmed that the contribution is a specific element of the government’s approximately €11 million contribution through the European Peace Facility and the further €20 million in humanitarian assistance.

He described the contribution as a “further tangible demonstration” of Ireland’s support for and solidarity with the people of Ukraine.

Mariupol convoy

A convoy of more than 160 cars departed from Mariupol on Monday, according to local officials, in what appeared to be the first successful attempt to arrange a “humanitarian corridor” to evacuate civilians from the besieged Ukrainian city.

After several days of failed attempts to deliver supplies to the Black Sea port city, and provide safe passage out for trapped civilians, the city council said a local ceasefire was holding and the convoy had left for the city of Zaporizhzhia.

People have been trapped in Mariupol for more than two weeks and are reportedly running out of supplies after being surrounded by Russian forces.

Elsewhere, Vladimir Putin has denied requesting weapons from China to help with his war in Ukraine, despite the US claiming he had. Speaking on Monday, a Kremlin spokesperson claimed Russia’s invasion was “going according to plan”, despite a close Putin ally saying it was not going as well as hoped.

They added that their country could take control of Ukraine without military assistance.

Pregnant woman dies

A pregnant woman pictured on a stretcher as she was rushed out of a maternity hospital in Ukrainian city of Mariupol, has died along with her baby, it has been reported.

The hospital was hit by a Russian airstrike last week.

The gripping picture, captured by photographer Evgeniy Maloletka for the Associated Press, encapsulated the toll on civilians of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. It was shared, and condemned, around the world – but little was known about the woman herself.

Now, the AP reports that the woman and her baby died in horrific conditions in the aftermath of the attack on the hospital – arriving to her surgeon with her pelvis crushed and hip detached.

Surgeon Timur Marin told the AP that medics delivered the baby via cesarean section, but the infant showed “no signs of life.”

The woman, whose name has not been revealed publicly, is part of a civilian death toll from the war in Ukraine that the United Nations puts at 596, though it “believes that the actual figures are considerably higher.”

The woman’s story illustrates the perilous situation facing those who are pregnant in Ukraine, where at least 31 attacks against health-care facilities or equipment have been documented by the World Health Organization since the start of Russia’s assault two and a half weeks ago.

According to the United Nations, “80,000 Ukrainian women are expected to give birth in the next three months while oxygen and medical supplies, including for the management of pregnancy complications, are running dangerously low.”

In Mariupol, a southern port in Ukraine that officials say has been under Russian bombardments for days, a maternity hospital was hit on Wednesday. Ukrainians blamed Russian forces; Moscow has claimed without evidence through its spokespeople that the hospital was emptied of patients and used as a base for Ukrainian military activity.

Zelensky wants meeting with Putin

Last night Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has said he will continue negotiating with Russia and is waiting for a meeting with Vladimir Putin.

Mr Zelensky has repeatedly called for a meeting with Putin.

But so far, his requests have gone unanswered by the Kremlin.

Mr Zelensky said Sunday during his nightly address to the nation that his delegation has a “clear task” to do everything to ensure a meeting between the two presidents.

He said talks are held daily between the two countries via video conference.

He said the talks are necessary to establish a cease-fire and more humanitarian corridors. He said those corridors have saved more than 130,000 people in six days.

The humanitarian convoy to the besieged city of Mariupol was blocked Sunday by Russian forces. Zelensky said they would try again Monday.

The  Ukrainian President has said it was a “black day” after Russia shelled a military base in the western part of his country.

Last night the US warned Putin that Russia would face Nato’s “full force” if they strayed beyond the border after the attack 25km from Poland.

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Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy

In his nightly address on Sunday, Mr Zelensky said Russia fired 30 rockets at the Yavoriv military base.

It killed 35 people and injured 134 injured others.

The base is less than 25km from the Polish border.

Mr  Zelensky said he had given Western leaders “clear warning” of the danger to the base. He asked NATO leaders again to establish a no-fly zone over Ukraine. He warned “it is only a matter of time” before Russian missiles fall on NATO territory.

Military analysts say the US Britain and their European allies are unlikely to impose a no-fly zone because they believe it could escalate the war in Ukraine into a nuclear confrontation between NATO and Russia.

Nato’s warning to Russia

But Russia will be at “war with Nato” if it bombs any of the military alliance’s territory, UK government minister Sajid Javid  warned – after Sunday’s missile attack.

The health secretary said the West had made clear its response if any Nato country is attacked, stating: “Then it will be war with Nato and Nato would respond.”

The deadly strike came less than 24 hours after Moscow threatened to target foreign weapons shipments helping Ukrainian fighters defend their country.

Mr Javid said Nato had drawn the red line before the invasion, adding: “That hasn’t changed throughout this conflict, there would be a significant response from Nato.”

The Red Cross is warning of a “worst-case scenario” for hundreds of thousands of civilians in the besieged city of Mariupol unless the parties agree to ensure their safety and access to humanitarian aid.

The head of the International Committee of the Red Cross, Peter Maurer, said in a statement said Sunday that residents of Mariupol “have endured a weeks-long life-and-death nightmare.”

The Geneva-based humanitarian agency said hundreds of thousands of people in the city are “facing extreme or total shortages of basic necessities like food, water and medicine.”

“Dead bodies, of civilians and combatants, remain trapped under the rubble or lying in the open where they fell,” the ICRC added. “Life-changing injuries and chronic, debilitating conditions cannot be treated. The human suffering is simply immense.”

The Red Cross called on the parties to agree on the terms of a cease-fire, routes for safe passage, and to ensure the deal is respected. It offered to act as a neutral intermediary in negotiations.

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Rescuers work next to a residential building damaged by shelling, as Russia’s attack on Ukraine continues, in Kyiv, Ukraine, in this handout picture released March 14, 2022. Press service of the State Emergency Service of Ukraine/Handout via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITOR

Chernobyl

Ukraine said it has restored a broken power line to the Chernobyl power plant, the scene of a nuclear meltdown in 1986, which is held by Russian troops.

Energy Minister Herman Halushchenko said that “heroes” from the national power grid company managed to restore the connection. The power is used to run pumps which keep spent nuclear fuel cool to prevent radiation leaks.

Ukraine said Wednesday that power had been cut to the site and that there was enough diesel fuel to run on-site generators for 48 hours. The International Atomic Energy Agency played down concerns, saying it saw little risk of the pools containing the spent fuel overheating even without electricity.

Belarus said Thursday it had set up an emergency power line to Chernobyl from its nearby border.

https://www.independent.ie/news/28m-people-have-now-fled-russian-invasion-as-un-chief-says-ukraine-is-on-fire-the-country-is-being-decimated-before-the-eyes-of-the-world-41444079.html 2.8m people have now fled Russian invasion as UN chief says: ‘Ukraine is on fire. The country is being decimated before the eyes of the world’

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