GENEVA – The UN refugee agency says more than 4 million people have fled Ukraine since the Russian invasion, a new stage in Europe’s biggest refugee crisis since World War II.
The UN High Commissioner for Refugees said on Wednesday on a website that tracks refugee flows around the world that 4.01 million people have already fled Ukraine. 2.3 million of them entered Poland.
Humanitarian workers say the flow has slowed in recent days as many people expect the war to develop. Approximately 6.5 million people have also been displaced from their homes in Ukraine.
KEY DEVELOPMENT OF THE RUSSIA-UKRAINE WAR:
– Russia’s promise to reduce the scale in Ukraine raises skepticism
– Germany triggers a gas warning amid demand for the Russian ruble
– UN Food Chief: The food crisis in Ukraine is the worst since World War II
– Sanctioned oligarch Abramovich seen in the negotiations between Russia and Ukraine
– Go to https://apnews.com/hub/russia-ukraine for more coverage
WARSAW, Poland – Poland’s prime minister has said his country will take steps to suspend Russian oil imports by the end of 2022.
Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said on Wednesday that Poland has already greatly reduced its dependence on Russian oil.
Morawiecki told a news conference that Poland had launched the most radical plan among European nations to wean itself off Russian energy sources.
Poland said on Tuesday it was banning imports of Russian coal. Morawiecki said he expects gas imports to be reduced in May and called on other European countries to follow suit.
Poland claims that the money from oil and gas exports feeds the Russian military machine and that this must stop.
BERLIN – The head of the International Atomic Energy Agency is visiting a nuclear power plant in southern Ukraine for a trip aimed at supporting the security of the country’s nuclear facilities.
Rafael Mariano Grossi arrived in Ukraine on Tuesday. On Wednesday, he tweeted that he had been at a power plant in southern Ukraine to meet with Ukrainian civil servants and officials and launch IAEA technical assistance.
He said that “it is vital to be on the ground to provide effective support to (Ukraine) in these extremely difficult times” and that the IAEA’s presence “will help prevent the danger of a nuclear accident that could have serious consequences for public health and the environment in Ukraine and abroad. “
The closest big city to the plant is Nikolaev.
Ukraine has 15 nuclear reactors at four plants – one of which, in Zaporozhye, is controlled by the Russian military. It is also home to the decommissioned Chernobyl plant, the site of the 1986 military occupation of the Russian military.
As of Tuesday, eight reactors were operating, including two in southern Ukraine, and the rest were closed for regular maintenance.
ISTANBUL – Turkey said the Ukrainian and Russian delegations decided to return home for consultations after making progress in negotiations.
Tuesday’s talks, organized by Turkey, outlined what a framework for ending the war could be. Talks were expected to resume on Wednesday, but Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said the two countries were returning proposals to their capitals.
At the conference in Istanbul, the Ukrainian delegation set a framework according to which the country will declare itself neutral and its security will be guaranteed by a number of other nations.
Russia’s Deputy Defense Minister Alexander Fomin said Moscow would meanwhile reduce military activity in the direction of Kyiv and Chernigov in order to “increase mutual trust and create conditions for further negotiations.”
The head of the Russian delegation, Vladimir Medinsky, said the negotiators would take Ukraine’s proposals to Russian President Vladimir Putin and then Moscow would respond, but did not say when.
Cavusoglu said he expected a meeting between Russian and Ukrainian foreign ministers at an unspecified time. He said another meeting between the presidents of the two countries was on the agenda.
Russia’s state-run Tass news agency reported that Moscow delegates returned to Russia late Tuesday.
LONDON – Britain says Russia’s growing reliance on mercenaries in battles in Ukraine is a sign of the severe damage of the war on Moscow’s forces.
Western officials say up to 1,000 Wagner private fighters have been sent to eastern Ukraine. Moscow is also trying to recruit Syrians to fight in the country.
British Deputy Prime Minister Dominique Raab said that “this is a worrying sign, but it also probably shows you how dependent they are on other fighters due to the weakness and fragility of the professional forces”.
He told Sky News that “the Russian military machine, which had a rather formidable reputation, was found to stutter and stumble, at least in the early stages of this campaign.”
The UK Ministry of Defense said some Russian troops had withdrawn from Ukraine to Russia and Belarus after suffering heavy losses.
Ukraine’s northern governor Chernihiv said Russian attacks continued overnight, although Moscow said it would reduce military activity in the area.
Vyacheslav Chaus said in a video message on social media that houses and infrastructure, including libraries and shopping malls, had been damaged in the towns of Chernihiv and Nizhyn.
Chaus did not say whether anyone was killed or wounded.
Commenting on Russia’s statement that it would reduce its military activity, he said: “Do we believe in this? Of course not.”
During talks in Istanbul on Tuesday, Russian Deputy Defense Minister Alexander Fomin said Moscow would reduce military activity in the direction of Kyiv and Chernigov to “boost mutual trust and create conditions for further talks”.
BERLIN – The German Minister of Economy said that he was activating the level of early warning for gas supplies amid the continuing demand for Russia to pay in rubles.
Robert Habeck told reporters on Wednesday that this was the first of three levels of warning and involved setting up a crisis team at his ministry to step up monitoring the gas supply situation.
Habek said he took the measure after Moscow indicated it would demand payment in rubles, although the Group of Seven countries rejected similar requests on Monday.
He says gas storage facilities in Germany are currently filled to about 25% capacity.
LONDON – The British Ministry of Defense says that Russia’s stated focus on separatist regions in eastern Ukraine “is probably a tacit acknowledgment that it is struggling to maintain more than one significant axis of progress.”
In a daily assessment of the war, the ministry said on Wednesday that Russian troops, who had suffered heavy losses, had been forced to return to Belarus and Russia to reorganize and supply. It says such activity puts additional pressure on Russia’s already tense logistics and demonstrates the difficulties Russia is facing in reorganizing its units in Ukraine’s former regions.
However, he noted that the change is unlikely to mean relief for civilians in cities that have been subjected to ruthless Russian bombing. He expects Moscow to continue to compensate for the reduced ground maneuvers through massive artillery and missile strikes.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky expressed skepticism Tuesday night about Russia’s statement that it would significantly reduce military operations near the Ukrainian capital and northern city.
“Yes, these signals that we hear during the negotiations can be called positive. But these signals do not drown out the explosions of Russian shells, “Zelensky said. “Of course we see the risks. Of course, we see no reason to trust the words of these or other representatives of the state, which continues to fight for our destruction. “
Negotiations are expected to resume on Wednesday, five weeks after what turned into a bloody war of attrition, with thousands dead and nearly 4 million Ukrainians fleeing the country.
“Ukrainians are not naive people,” Zelensky said. “Ukrainians have already learned during the 34 days of the invasion and the last eight years of the war in Donbass that you can only trust concrete results.
The Ukrainian delegation to the Istanbul conference set out a framework according to which the country will declare itself neutral and its security will be guaranteed by a number of other nations.
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The United Nations says more than 4 million have fled Ukraine
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