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Russia-Ukraine: 1 million refugees per week, the fastest of the century

A U.S. official said a column of Russian military vehicles appeared to be about 16 miles from Kiev, citing fuel and food shortages.

KYIV, Ukraine – The number of people fleeing Ukraine as a result of the Russian occupation exceeded 1 million on Wednesday, the fastest refugee migration of the century, as Russian forces continue to bomb the country’s second-largest city, Kharkov, and Kharkov. besieged two strategic seaports.

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) told the Associated Press that more than 2 percent of Ukraine’s population had been displaced in less than a week. Mass evacuations could be seen in Kharkov, where residents squeezed the city’s train station, desperate to escape shells and bombs, and always tried to step on trains without knowing where they were going.

In a video message, Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky called on Ukrainians to continue the resistance. He described the occupiers as “not a single quiet moment” and described Russian soldiers as “confused children used”.

Moscow’s isolation deepened when most of the world demanded his withdrawal from Ukraine in front of the United Nations. And the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court has launched an investigation into possible war crimes.

At a time of fighting on several fronts across the country, the British Defense Ministry said Mariupol, a major city in the Sea of ​​Azov, was under siege by Russian forces, while another important port, Kherson, a 280,000-strong Black Sea shipyard, remained. it is not clear.

Russian President Vladimir Putin’s forces claimed to have taken full control of Kherson, making it the largest city still under occupation. A senior US defense official argued.

“In our opinion, Kherson is a very controversial city,” said the official, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Zelensky’s office told the AP that it could not comment on the situation in Kherson as fighting continued.

Kherson Mayor Igor Kolikhayev said that Russian soldiers were in the city and came to the city administration building. He asked them not to open fire on civilians and to allow crews to collect bodies from the streets.

“We have no Ukrainian forces in the city, only civilians and people who want to live here,” he said in a statement he later shared on Facebook.

The mayor said Kherson would impose a strict curfew from 8 to 6 a.m. and restrict traffic to the city for food and medicine. The city will also require infantry to march in groups of no more than two, obey stop orders and “not provoke troops.”

“The flag waving above us is Ukraine,” he wrote. “And for that to happen, these requirements must be met.”

Mariupol Mayor Vadim Boychenko said the attacks were brutal.

“Today, we cannot even evacuate the wounded from the streets, houses and apartments, because the fire does not stop,” he said.

Russia announced its military casualties for the first time since the occupation began last week, saying about 500 soldiers had been killed and about 1,600 wounded. Ukraine has not announced any military casualties, but said more than 2,000 civilians have been killed, a claim that cannot be independently confirmed.

In a video message to the nation on Thursday, Zelensky praised the country’s resistance.

“We are a nation that destroyed the enemy’s plans in a week,” he said. “There will be no peace here. They will not have food. They will not have a single quiet moment here. “

According to him, the fighting is a blow to the morale of Russian soldiers who “try to go into grocery stores and find something to eat.”

“These are not superpower fighters,” he said. “These are used confused kids.”

A senior U.S. defense official, meanwhile, said a large colony of hundreds of tanks and other vehicles was about 25 kilometers (16 miles) from Kiev and had made no real progress in the past few days.

The official said that the caravan, which was preparing to attack the capital earlier this week, faced a shortage of fuel and food.

On the outskirts of Kiev, volunteers over the age of 60 set up checkpoints to prevent Russia from advancing.

Andrei Goncharuk, 68, said: “In my old age, I had to take up arms. He said the fighters needed more weapons, but “we will kill the enemy and take their weapons.”

All over Ukraine, others gathered at train stations, wrapped children in blankets, and dragged wheelchairs into new lives as refugees.

Joung-ah Ghedini-Williams, a spokesman for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), told the EP in an e-mail that the number of refugees in central Europe had exceeded 1 million by midnight, based on figures collected by national authorities.

Another agency spokeswoman, Shabia Mantoo, said “moving so fast” from Ukraine could turn it into a source of “the biggest refugee crisis of the century”.

A powerful explosion rocked central Kiev on Wednesday evening. According to the presidential office, a rocket was fired near the southern railway station of the capital. No casualties were reported immediately.

Russian forces destroyed buildings and set fire to the skies during another airstrike in Kharkov, Ukraine’s largest city after Kiev and home to about 1.5 million people. The head of the Kharkiv regional administration, Oleg Sinehubov, said at least 21 people had been killed in the past day.

According to Zelensky’s chief adviser, Alexei Aretovich, several Russian planes were shot down over Kharkov.

“Today Kharkov is the Stalingrad of the 21st century,” Aretovich said, recalling the city’s five-month defense against the Nazis during World War II, one of the most heroic episodes in Russian history.

“The city is one and we will stand firm,” Kharkiv Mayor Igor Terekov told the BBC from a basement bunker.

According to officials, videos and photos released by Ukraine’s State Emergency Situations Service, Russian attacks blew off the roof of a five-story regional police building in Kharkov, set it on fire, and hit an intelligence headquarters and a university building. . Officials said residential buildings were also hit, but did not provide details.

The head of the UN nuclear watchdog has warned that the fighting poses a threat to Ukraine’s 15 nuclear reactors.

Rafael Grossi of the International Atomic Energy Agency said the war was “the first military conflict between the facilities of a large, built-in nuclear power program” and that he was “seriously concerned.”

Russia took control of the decommissioned Chernobyl power plant in 1986, the scene of the world’s worst nuclear disaster.

In New York, the UN General Assembly voted to call on Russia to stop the attack and withdraw all its troops immediately, with world powers and small island nations condemning Moscow. 5 votes out of 141 in favor, 35 abstentions.

Resolutions of the Assembly have no legal force, but can reflect and influence world opinion.

The vote came after the 193-member assembly convened its first emergency session since 1997. The only countries that voted with Russia were Belarus, Syria, North Korea and Eritrea. Cuba spoke in defense of Moscow, but in the end remained neutral.

Ukraine’s ambassador to the United Nations, Sergei Kislytsya, said Russian forces had “come to Ukraine not just to kill some of us … to deprive Ukraine of its right to exist.” He added: “The crimes are so brutal that it’s hard to understand.”

Russia has intensified its rhetoric. In an interview with Al Jazeera, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov reminded the world of the country’s large nuclear arsenal, saying that “a third world war can only be nuclear.”

– The second round of talks to end the fighting was expected on Thursday, but there was little consensus between the two sides.

– Oil prices continue to rise, reaching $ 112 per barrel, the highest level since 2014.

– Airbus and Boeing have announced that they will cut off spare parts and technical support to the country’s airlines, which was a big blow. Airbus and Boeing aircraft make up the vast majority of Russia’s passenger fleet.

Isachenkov and Litvinova reported from Moscow; Karmanau reported from the Ukrainian city of Lviv. Mstyslav Chernov Mariupol, Ukraine; Sergey Grits, Odessa, Ukraine; Francesca Ebel, Josef Federman and Andrew Drake in Kiev; Jamie Keaten in Geneva; Lynn Berry, Robert Burns and Eric Tucker in Washington; Edit M. Lederer and Jennifer Peltz at the United Nations; and other EP journalists from around the world contributed to the report.

Russia-Ukraine: 1 million refugees per week, the fastest of the century

Source link Russia-Ukraine: 1 million refugees per week, the fastest of the century

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