Moscow said Tuesday that Russian forces had opened a humanitarian corridor for Ukrainian troops who agreed to lay down their arms to leave the embattled city of Mariupol.
Russia said on Tuesday it was expelling 36 diplomats from two European countries in retaliation for similar measures taken against Moscow’s foreign envoys over the Kremlin’s military operation in Ukraine.
On Wednesday, Ukraine said its evacuation efforts to bring some civilians out of the war-torn port city of Mariupol would resume.
Russia on April 19 called on Ukrainian forces to “immediately” lay down arms and issued a new ultimatum for the defenders of the besieged port city of Mariupol to give up their resistance.
China told Russia it will continue to increase “strategic coordination” with it regardless of international volatility, the foreign ministry said in a statement on Tuesday.
Ukraine said Tuesday there would be no humanitarian corridors to evacuate civilians in the country for a third consecutive day because there has been no agreement with Russia.
U.S. President Joe Biden will on Tuesday hold a call with allies to discuss the Ukraine crisis, including how to coordinate on holding Russia accountable, the White House said. The United States is set to approve another $800 million in military aid for Ukraine, less than a week after announcing a package of the same amount, U.S. media reported Tuesday.
Here are the latest updates
1,20,000 people stuck as Mariupol evacuation fails
A top Ukrainian official said Wednesday’s planned evacuation of civilians from Mariupol has failed because of the Russian failure to observe a cease-fire.
Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk said “the humanitarian corridor didn’t work as planned” on Wednesday. She added that “the occupiers have failed to ensure a proper cease-fire die to the lack of control over its own military.”
Vereshchuk also charged that “due to the sloppiness” of the Russian military, it has failed to timely deliver those who were willing to evacuate to an area where Ukrainian buses were waiting for them.
She said that efforts to evacuate civilians from Mariupol will resume Thursday. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said about 120,000 people remain under siege in the city.—AP
Russia closes in on Ukraine’s Mariupol
After nearly two months under siege, the southern city of Mariupol could fall into Russian hands within “hours”, a Ukrainian official said, as the two sides agreed on Wednesday to a humanitarian corridor to allow civilians to flee the devastated port city. As fighting raged in the country’s east and south, the president of the European Council Charles Michel arrived in Kyiv, in the latest sign of strengthening ties between Ukraine and the EU.
“In Kyiv today. In the heart of a free and democratic Europe,” he wrote on social media.
Mr. Michel’s visit comes as the West continues to pour weapons into Ukraine amid a renewed Russian push into the eastern Donbas region where a new offensive launched this week has led to an uptick in fighting. Hours ahead of Mr. Michel’s arrival, the Pentagon said that Ukraine had recently received fighter planes and spare parts to bolster its air force, following repeated calls from Kyiv for heavier weapons. - AFP
Norway sends air defense systems to Ukraine
Norway is donating about 100 air defense systems to Ukraine with the Scandinavian country’s defense minister saying that “the country is depending on international support to resist Russian aggression.” Bjørn Arild Gram said Norway had donated French-made Mistral short-range missile systems which currently are being phased out by the Norwegian Armed Forces, “but it is still a modern and effective weapon that will be of great benefit to Ukraine,” Arild Gram said.
The weapons have already left Norway which previously has donated 4,000 anti-tank missiles, protective equipment and other military equipment to Ukraine, he added. - AP
Russian players to be barred from competing at Wimbledon: report
Russian players will not be allowed to compete at Wimbledon this year due to Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine, according to a report in sports industry news site Sportico on Tuesday.
Earlier this month, the All England Lawn Tennis Club (AELTC), which organises the grasscourt Grand Slam, said it was in talks with the British government on the participation of players from Russia and Belarus.
The organisers said it planned to announce a decision in mid-May ahead of the entry deadline for the June 27-July 10 tournament. - Reuters
UN says 5 million have fled Ukraine
The United Nations' refugee agency says that more than 5 million people have now fled Ukraine since the Russian invasion began on Feb 24.
The Geneva-based UN High Commissioner for Refugees on Wednesday put the total number of refugees at 5.01 million.
UNHCR said on March 30 that 4 million people had fled Ukraine. - AP
Ukraine to resume evacuations out of Mariupol
Ukraine says its evacuation efforts to bring some civilians out of the war-torn port city of Mariupol will resume Wednesday.
Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk said Wednesday there is a “preliminary” agreement to operate a so-called humanitarian corridor route westward to the Ukraine-controlled city of Zaporizhzhia. It will apply to women, children and older people from Wednesday afternoon local time, she said in a statement on the messaging app Telegram.
She added that Mariupol was the focus of Ukrainian efforts to help civilians because of the “catastrophic humanitarian situation” in the city, which has seen intense fighting for weeks as Russian troops have pushed Ukrainian forces back and now have them encircled in a steel mill complex.
Ms Vereshchuk previously said there would not be an agreed evacuation route out of Mariupol on each of the past three days, saying at the time that an agreement had not been reached with Russia. There was no immediate confirmation from the Russian side. Ukraine and Russia have frequently blamed each other for obstructing evacuations from Mariupol or firing along the agreed route, which has typically only been open to people traveling using private vehicles. - AP
Russia pours in more troops and presses attack in the east
Russia assaulted cities and towns along with boomerang-shaped front hundreds of miles long and poured more troops into Ukraine on Tuesday in a potentially pivotal battle for control of the country’s eastern industrial heartland of coal mines and factories.
If successful, the Russian offensive in what is known as the Donbas would essentially slice Ukraine in two and give President Vladimir Putin a badly needed victory following the failed attempt by Moscow’s forces to storm the capital, Kyiv, and heavier-than-expected casualties nearly two months into the war. -AP
IAEA says Chornobyl nuclear plant has reestablished ties with state regulator
Ukraine told the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) on Tuesday that direct communications had been restored between the Chornobyl nuclear power plant and the state atomic power regulator after Russian troops left the facility, the IAEA said.
IAEA Director General Rafael Grossi said the development was “very good news,” adding he would lead a team of experts to the plant later this month to carry out a series of assessments. -Reuters