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Russia-Ukraine conflict: Ceasefire restored, talks planned

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) says more than 1.5 million refugees have fled Ukraine to neighboring countries since the Russian occupation.

LVIV, Ukraine – Plans to evacuate civilians from the besieged Ukrainian port city have failed for a second time since Sunday’s ceasefire, a Ukrainian official said, adding that officials were trying to persuade Russia to agree on other evacuation routes near Ukraine. capital.

Ukrainian military authorities expect residents to leave the port city of Mariupol during a local ceasefire between 10:00 and 21:00 in the morning. Interior Ministry Undersecretary Anton Gerashchenko said the planned evacuations had been halted due to an ongoing offensive by Russian troops.

“There can be no ‘green corridors’, because only the sick brain of the Russians decides when and to whom to open fire,” Gerashenko told the Telegram.

The news has dashed hopes of progress in mitigation, despite the end of a 11-day war in Ukraine that has forced 1.5 million people to flee the country. The head of the UN refugee agency on Sunday called the emigration “the fastest growing refugee crisis in Europe since World War II.”

The presidents of Turkey and France, as well as Pope Francis, have called on Russian President Vladimir Putin to hold talks to end the conflict.

Separately, Ukraine’s National Security Service says Russian forces fired rockets at a physics institute in Kharkov with nuclear material and a reactor. Russian troops have already seized control of the Zaporozhye plant in Ukraine, as well as the Chernobyl nuclear power plant, the site of the world’s worst nuclear disaster.

The security service said a strike on a nuclear facility in Kharkov could lead to a “large-scale environmental disaster.” The service said on Facebook on Sunday that the Russians were firing from Grad launch systems. These missiles do not have a precise target, and it is worrying that they will lose their way.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has reiterated his request to foreign patrons to impose a no-fly zone over Ukraine, which NATO has so far ruled out because it is concerned that such a move could lead to a Western war.

“The world is strong enough to close our skies,” Zelensky said in a video address on Sunday.

Putin warned on Saturday that Moscow would consider a third party’s statement to close Ukrainian airspace as hostile.

The disappointment for women, children and the elderly waiting to leave Mariupol and the nearby city of Volnovakha as Ukrainian men were left behind to fight came after a similar ceasefire agreement collapsed on Saturday and foreign leaders tried to end diplomacy. war.

Putin told Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan that Russia’s occupation of Ukraine could be stopped “only if Kyiv stops military operations and meets Russia’s known demands.”

Putin has previously said that the Kremlin’s main demands are the “demilitarization” and “denazification” of Ukraine, the recognition of Crimea as part of Russia and the recognition of the separatist regions in eastern Ukraine as independent states.

RELATIONS: Why is Russia occupying Ukraine?

“It is hoped that during the next round of talks, the Ukrainian representatives will show a more constructive approach, taking into account the realities.” The third round of talks between Russia and Ukraine is scheduled for Monday.

Pope Francis said he sent two cardinals to Ukraine on Sunday in a very unusual move and said the Vatican was ready to do everything possible to achieve peace to end the conflict that began when Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24.

“Rivers of blood and tears are flowing in Ukraine,” the pontiff said in his traditional Sunday blessing. “It’s not just a military operation, it’s a war of death, destruction and misery.”

As Russian forces besieged several Ukrainian cities and stopped the caravan outside the capital, Kiev, Zelensky appeared on television on Saturday night in a plain military green shirt and called on his people to be obedient.

“Ukrainians attack in all our cities where the enemy has entered!” Said Zelensky. “You have to take to the streets! You have to fight! … It is necessary to go out and expel this evil from our cities and lands. “

After a ceasefire was not reached in Mariupol on Saturday, Russian forces stepped up fire on the city and dropped large bombs on settlements in the northern city of Chernigov, Ukrainian officials said.

In Mariupol, orphans mourned the deaths of children, put turnstiles on wounded soldiers, and doctors were left dark and helpless in the light of their cell phones.

Mariupol Mayor Vadim Boychenko told Ukrainian television: “The city is under a very, very difficult siege. “Residential blocks continue to come under heavy fire, planes are dropping bombs on settlements. The Russian occupiers are using heavy artillery, including Grad rocket launchers.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has continued to blame the war on the Ukrainian leadership, condemning their resistance to Russian forces.

“If they continue to do what they are doing, they will call into question the future of Ukrainian statehood,” Putin said on Saturday. “And if that happens, it will be entirely on their conscience.”

He also touched on Western sanctions, which have devastated the Russian economy and devalued its currency. Meanwhile, more and more companies are closing in Russia, including Mastercard and Visa.

“These sanctions are like declaring war,” he said in a televised address on Saturday to the flight attendants of Russia’s Aeroflot, which has suspended all international flights except Belarus. “But thank God we haven’t gotten there yet.”

On Sunday, the World Health Organization condemned the attacks on medical workers in Ukraine, saying it had confirmed at least six such attacks, killing six and injuring 11.

Attacks on health workers are a violation of international humanitarian law, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said on Twitter.

On Sunday, British military officials compared Russia’s tactics in Ukraine to those used in airstrikes and artillery fire in besieged cities after Russian forces faced unexpected resistance.

The British Ministry of Defense said in a daily intelligence briefing that the strength of the Ukrainian resistance continues to surprise Russian forces, who have responded by targeting populated areas, including the cities of Kharkov, Chernigov and Mariupol.

“This is likely to represent an attempt to undermine Ukraine’s morale,” the ministry said. “Russia used similar tactics in Chechnya in 1999 and in Syria in 2016, using both air and ground ammunition.”

It is difficult to measure the number of people killed in the conflict. The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs says at least 351 civilians have been killed, but the actual number is probably higher. Russian and Ukrainian defense officials did not report any military casualties.

The Ukrainian army is far superior to the Russian army, but its professional and volunteer forces have resisted with great perseverance. In Kiev, volunteers lined up to join the army on Saturday.

Even in the fallen cities, there were signs of resistance demanded by Zelensky.

According to a video released by the Ukrainian government, spectators in Chernigov applauded those who watched the Russian military plane crash. Hundreds of protesters in Kherson waved blue and yellow Ukrainian flags and shouted “Go home.”

However, the struggle for a temporary ceasefire in Mariupol and Volnovakha on Saturday showed the fragility of efforts to stop fighting throughout Ukraine.

Russia, which wants to block access to the Eurovision Sea, has made significant progress in southern Ukraine. The capture of Mariupol could allow Moscow to create a land corridor to Crimea, which Russia annexed from Ukraine in 2014, which is considered illegal by most other countries.

Meanwhile, the head of the Chernigov region said that Russia had dropped powerful bombs on the settlements of the city of the same name, which has a population of 290,000. Vyacheslav Chaus, an unexploded FAB-500, posted a photo on the Internet, which he said was a 1,100-pound (500-pound) bomb.

“Typically, these weapons are used against military-industrial facilities and fortified structures,” Chaus said.

The West has widely supported Ukraine, offered aid and arms supplies, and imposed heavy sanctions on Russia. But no NATO troops have been sent to Ukraine, and the Ukrainians are still fighting Russian troops.

“Blood is flowing from Ukraine, but Ukraine has not collapsed,” Foreign Minister Dmitry Kuleba said in a video released on Saturday.

US President Joe Biden called Zelensky on Sunday morning to discuss sanctions against Russia and the acceleration of US aid to Ukraine. The White House said the talks also included talks between Russia and Ukraine, but did not provide details.

US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken visited NATO member states in Eastern Europe over the weekend to receive refugees from Ukraine. In Moldova on Sunday, he pledged support for the pro-Western former Soviet republic, which has been cautiously watching Russia’s actions in Ukraine.

The United Nations has said it will step up humanitarian operations both inside and outside Ukraine, and the Security Council plans to hold a meeting on Monday to discuss the deteriorating situation.

The United Nations World Food Program (WFP) has warned of an impending famine in Ukraine, a global wheat supplier, saying millions of people will need “immediate” food aid.

Associated Press correspondents from around the world contributed to the report.

Russia-Ukraine conflict: Ceasefire restored, talks planned

Source link Russia-Ukraine conflict: Ceasefire restored, talks planned

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