Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said he is no longer pressing for NATO membership for Ukraine, and that he is open to “compromise” on the status of two breakaway pro-Russian territories that President Vladimir Putin recognised as independent.
Russia agreed to create “humanitarian corridors” through a temporary ceasefire in multiple Ukrainian city for the evacuation of the latter’s civilians who are trying to escape amid the military attacks being carried out by Russian forces. Ukraine said, however, that Russia violated the agreement, as shelling was reported on one of the established evacuated corridors.
United States President Joe Biden announced a ban on U.S. imports of Russian oil on Tuesday, in the administration's most far-reaching action yet to punish Moscow for invading Ukraine.
Union Minster Hardeep Puri said on March 8, that all 694 students remaining in the northeastern Ukrainian city of Sumy, had been safely evacuated and were headed to Poltava, in central Ukraine.
Isolation of Russian entities and individuals continued with Australia announcing sanctions on “propagandists”.
The conflict began escalating on February 21, 2022, after Russian President Vladimir Putin recognised separatist regions in eastern Ukraine and deployed troops in a peacekeeping role.
Here are the latest updates:
Starbucks, McDonald’s and Pepsico Inc suspend their business in Russia
Coffee chain Starbucks said Tuesday that it would halt operations in Russia — the latest fallout in the corporate world over Moscow's invasion of Ukraine.
"We have decided to suspend all business activity in Russia, including shipment of all Starbucks products," noted the firm, which previously said it has 130 stores in Russia that are wholly owned and operated by a licensed partner.
McDonald’s said Tuesday it is temporarily closing all of its 850 restaurants in Russia in response to the country's invasion of Ukraine, a highly symbolic move for the U.S. chain that was among the first to enter the former Soviet Union three decades ago.
The burger giant said it will continue paying its 62,000 employees in Russia “who have poured their heart and soul into our McDonald’s brand.” But in an open letter to employees, McDonald’s President and CEO Chris Kempckinski said closing those stores for now is the right thing to do.
McDonald’s has also temporarily closed 108 restaurants in Ukraine and continues to pay those employees.
McDonald's could take a big financial hit because of the closures. In a recent regulatory filing, the Chicago-based company said its restaurants in Russia and Ukraine contribute 9% of its annual revenue, or around $2 billion last year.—AFP & AP
Russia announces humanitarian ceasefire in Ukraine for Wednesday morning
Moscow has announced a humanitarian ceasefire in Ukraine for Wednesday morning to carry out the evacuation of the civilian population, Russian news agencies reported.
"From 10:00 MSK (0700 GMT) on March 9, 2022, the Russian Federation is declaring a 'regime of silence' and is ready to provide humanitarian corridors," a cell of the Russian defence ministry charged with humanitarian operations in Ukraine said Tuesday.
It added that Russia proposes to agree the routes and start time of the humanitarian corridors with Ukraine "before 03:00 MSK on March 9". —AFP
Zelenskyy echoes Churchill in defiant speech to U.K. MPs
Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, invoking the wartime defiance of British prime minister Winston Churchill, vowed Tuesday to "fight to the end" in a historic virtual speech to UK lawmakers.
"We will not give up and we will not lose," he said, recounting a day-by-day account of Russia's invasion that dwelt on the costs in lives of civilians including Ukrainian children.
"We will fight to the end, at sea, in the air. We will continue fighting for our land, whatever the cost, in the forests, in the fields, on the shores, in the streets," he said, to a standing ovation at the end.
The speech was a conscious echo of Churchill's landmark address to the House of Commons in June 1940, after British forces were forced to retreat from France in the face of a Nazi German onslaught.
Zelensky, wearing a military-green T-shirt and sitting next to Ukraine's blue-and-yellow flag, also invoked William Shakespeare as he delivered the chamber's first-ever virtual speech by a foreign leader.
"The question for us now is, to be or not to be," he said. "Now I can give you a definitive answer: it is yes, to be."
Zelensky, while thanking Western countries for their retaliation against Russia, also noted that NATO had failed to accede to his demands to impose a no-fly zone over Ukraine.
"But please increase the pressure of sanctions against this country. And please recognise this country as a terrorist state. And please make sure that our skies are safe," he said.
"Please make sure that you do what needs to be done and what is stipulated by the greatness of your country (Britain)."—AFP
In nod to Russia, Ukraine says no longer insisting on NATO membership
Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said he is no longer pressing for NATO membership for Ukraine, a delicate issue that was one of Russia’s stated reasons for invading its pro-Western neighbour.
In another apparent nod aimed at placating Moscow, Mr. Zelenskyy said he is open to “compromise” on the status of two breakaway pro-Russian territories that President Vladimir Putin recognised as independent just before unleashing the invasion on February 24.
“I have cooled down regarding this question a long time ago after we understood that ... NATO is not prepared to accept Ukraine,” Mr. Zelenskyy said in an interview aired Monday night on ABC News.
“The alliance is afraid of controversial things, and confrontation with Russia,” the President added. - AFP
U.S. bans Russian oil imports over Ukraine invasion: Joe Biden
United States President Joe Biden announced a ban on U.S. imports of Russian oil on Tuesday, in the administration's most far-reaching action yet to punish Moscow for invading Ukraine.
"We're banning all imports of Russian oil and gas and energy. That means Russian oil will no longer be acceptable at U.S. ports and the American people will deal another powerful blow to (President Vladimir) Putin," President Biden said in an address from the White House, adding that the decision was taken "in close consultation" with allies.
The ban came with Democrats threatening legislation to force President’s Biden’s hand, despite the likely impact on already soaring gas prices. - AFP
Over 60 Ukrainian hospitals out of action after Russian attacks: Ukrainian Health Minister
Sixty-one hospitals in Ukraine are not operational because of attacks by Russian forces, Health Minister Viktor Lyashko said on Tuesday.
“Terrorists from the aggressor country have put 61 hospitals out of action,” he said on television, adding that the authorities were unable to deliver critical medical supplies to front-line communities because of a lack of “humanitarian corridors.” Russia denies attacking civilian targets. - Reuters
Ukraine thaw could slow Russian advance in mud
Having failed to make a decisive advance in the early phase of its Ukraine campaign, the Russian army is now facing a thaw that could make progression on key routes problematic due to mud.
Like the armies of Napoleon and Hitler before them, Russian mechanised divisions are likely to be slowed down or halted as unpaved roads become treacherous quagmires.
Locals have a word for the twice-yearly season of mudbound roads in the region -- Rasputitsa, a term that refers to both to the seasons themselves, and the resulting muddy conditions on the roads created by thawing snow in the spring combined with wet weather, or heavy rains in the autumn. - AFP
U.K. to ban Russian oil imports: report
Britain will ban Russian oil imports, Politico reported citing Whitehall officials ahead of an announcement expected later on Tuesday.
Politico said there would be a months-long lead-in time on the ban to allow the global market to adjust and to stop people panic-buying petrol.
There will not be a ban on Russian gas at the same time, but this is still under discussion within the government, Politico reported. - Reuters
E.U. rolls out plan to cut Russia gas dependency this year, end it within the decade
The European Commission published plans on Tuesday to cut the EU’s dependency on Russian gas by two-thirds this year and end its reliance on Russian supplies of the fuel “well before 2030”.
The European Union executive said it will do so by switching to alternative supplies and expanding clean energy more quickly under the plans, which will largely be the responsibility of national governments for implementing. - Reuters
E.U. lawmakers to push for ban on new ‘golden passports’, visas for Russians
The European Parliament is set to approve on Wednesday a report urging the E.U. to ban golden passport schemes by 2025 and immediately stop the issuance of visas and passports to rich Russians in exchange for investments.
The move follows Russia’s invasion of Ukraine which has triggered global sanctions of unprecedented severity against Moscow, with targets including a number of powerful and wealthy Russians seen as close to President Vladimir Putin.
The golden passport industry, which between 2011 and 2019 generated investments in EU countries of over €20 billion ($21.8 billion), is currently almost entirely unregulated in the E.U., despite many countries having run these schemes for years. - Reuters
United States to ban Russian oil imports over the Ukraine situation
United State’s president Joe Biden has made a decision to ban the imports of Russian oil into the country, a person familiar with the matter said. - AP
According to the source Joe Biden is expected to announce his decision on Tuesday itself. The US will be acting in consultation with its European allies, who are more dependant on Russian natural gas for their energy requirments.
This comes after Ukrainian President Volodmyr Zelenskiy’s appeal to the US and Western heads to ban imports, a move that was missed out of the host of economic sanctions imposed on Russia over the Ukrainian incursion, ensuring a steady cash flow into Russia despite the santions already in place.
474 civilians killed, 861 injured in Ukraine- UN
The United Nations Human Rights Office says it has confrimed that 475 civilians have died in Ukraine and 861 have been injured since the Russian incursion began on February 24.
Meanwhile, Ukrainian Defence minister Oleksiy Reznikov releases revised estimated of the damage caused in Ukraine, owing to Russia’s military assault. Mr. Reznikov says, overall, 400 civilians had died and 800 have been wounded in Russian military attacks, adding that the data is “definitely incomplete” right now. This includes 38 children who lost their lives and more 70 who were wounded.
He states that Russian strikes have razed to the ground, 200 Ukrainian schools, 34 hospital and 1,500 residential buildings, adding that around 10,000 students from India, China and the Persian Gulf are trapped in the military assault. He further states that 11,000 Russian troops have been killed by Ukrainian forces. - AP
Russia may be deliberately targeting civilians- NATO Chief
NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg says Russian military may be deliberately targeting civilians as they try to flee the military assault on Ukraine.
Desceribing the targeting of civilians as a “war crime’ and “totally unacceptable”, Mr. Stoltenberg states that there are “very creditable” reports of civilians facing attacks while trying to evacuate.
“We need real humanitarian corridors that are fully respected,” he adds, while speaking to reporters in Latvia. -AP
China calls for “maximum restraint” in Ukraine
Chinese President Xi Jinping on Tuesday, called for “maximum restraint” in Ukraine, adding that his country is “pained to see the flames of war reignited in Europe,” China’s state media CCTV reported. -Reuters
Describing the Ukraine situation as “worrying”, Mr. Jinping said that the priority should be preventing it from “spinning out of control”.
Mr. Jinping made the remarks while speaking at a virtual meeting with French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz. He added that the three countries should come together to support peace talks between Russia and Ukraine.
These are China’s first direct remarks calling for halting of the Ukraine crisis since Russia began its military assault. Beijing has refrained from condemning the Russian operation and expressed objections to what it considers illegal sanctions on Russia.
British energy giant Shell says it will stop trade with Russia
London-headquartered oil and gas company Shell says it will shut all its service stations in Russia and stop buying oil and natural gas from the country. - AP Shell joined the continuing list of firms that have decided to halt their operations in Russia, as economic sanctions mount pressure on its already staggering economic. Recent corporate exists from Russia include American streaming service Netflix, South Korean electronics firm Samsung and multiple credit card operators.
Russia is shelling an evacuation route on the humaniarian corridor- Ukraine
Oleg Nikolenko, the spokesperson of Ukraine’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, tweeted that Russia is violating ceasefire by shelling the humanitarian corridor from the city of Zaporizhzhia to Mariupol in south-eastern Ukraine which was established Tuesday, after Russia’s green signal.
Nikolenko added that trucks and buses are on their way to deliver humanitarian aid to Mariupol and evacuate civilians to Zaporizhzhia.
Ukraine has started evacuation of civilians from Sumy and Irpin.
Union Housing Minister Hardeep Puri has said that 694 Indian students were in Sumy on Monday night and have now left in buses for Poltava in central Ukraine. - Damini Nath
Ukraine began evacuating civilians from Sumy and Irpin on Tuesday after Russia agreed to establish “humanitarian corridors”, officials have said. - Reuters
Humanitarian corridors were also established in other cities of Ukraine like Kyiv, Chernihiv, Kharkiv and Mariupol, the Interfax news agency quoted the Russian defence ministry as saying.
Ukraine refugee count will cross the two-million mark by Wednesday, head of UN refugee agency has said.
The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) announced on Monday that the Russia-Ukraine crisis has already displaced 1.7 million people.
“I do think that we will pass the two million mark today or maybe at the latest tomorrow. So, it doesn’t stop,” Filippo Grandi, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, told media in Oslo, Norway. - AFP
Russia opens ‘humanitarian corridors’ from Kyiv, four other Ukraine cities - Interfax
Russia has opened “humanitarian corridors” so people can be evacuated from Kyiv and four other Ukrainian cities: Cherhihiv, Sumy, Kharkiv and Mariupol, the Interfax news agency quoted the Russian defence ministry as saying on Tuesday.
The defence ministry added that Russian forces in Ukraine had introduced a “silent regime” from 0700 GMT, Interfax reported.- Reuters
U.S. President Joe Biden thanked South Korea for announcing financial sanctions on Russia.
Biden sent a letter of thanks to South Korean President Moon Jae-in for announcing financial sanctions and export controls against Russia.
South Korea began halting transactions with the Russian central bank and immobilising its assets held in the Korean Republic won currency from Tuesday. The country has also stopped transactions with seven other Russian banks and their affiliates. - Reuters
Russian airstrikes destroy Ukrainian oil depots in Zhytomyr and Cherniakhiv
Ukrainian Ministry of Foreign Affairs informed that oil depots in Zhytomyr and Cherniakhiv were destroyed as a result of two airstrikes.
According to Interfax, Ukraine State Emergency Service’s Telegram Channel confirmed a reservoir with a capacity of ten cubic metres caught fire. About twenty people and four units of the State Emergency Services equipment were involved in extinguishing – capacity is yet to be ascertained. Additionally, two half-empty tanks were ignited in the Cherniakhiv. Residents have been evacuated from nearby residential buildings.
Nine killed in bombing in Sumy, Ukraine, rescuers say.
At least nine people, including two children, were killed in Sumy in an airstrike on Monday night.
“Enemy planes insidiously attacked apartment buildings,” rescue services said.
Sumy is located around 350 km east of Kyiv, the capital of Ukraine. The city is situated close to the Russian border and has seen heavy fighting in the past few days.
Around 700 Indian nationals are stranded in Sumy. - AFP
Volunteers from India, U.S., U.K., Sweden, Lithuania and Mexico have joined Ukraine’s volunteer military force- The Kyiv
Ukrainian news media The Kyiv Independent, citing information the Ukrainian Ground Forces, states citizens from U.S, U.K., Sweden, Lithuania, Mexico and India have joined the volunteer military force.
On February 27, President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskyy had appealed, “Anyone who wants to join the defence of Ukraine, Europe and the world can come and fight side by side with the Ukrainians against the Russian war criminals.”
Russia declares ceasefire for evacuation of citizens from Kiev, Chernigov, Sumi and Mariupol.
Russia’s U.N. Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia says Russia will carry out a cease-fire on Tuesday morning at 10 a.m. Moscow time and open humanitarian corridors to evacuate citizens from Kiev, Chernigov, Sumy and Mariupol.
He took the floor at the end of a U.N. Security Council meeting on the humanitarian crisis in Ukraine on Monday to make the announcement.
“This proposal doesn’t have any demands about the citizens being sent necessarily to Russia, into Russian territory,” he said. - Associated Press
Separately, according to the news agency, Zelenskyy’s office had stated those plans can be believed only if a safe evacuation begins.
143 Ukrainian civilians killed since the start of Russian aggression - Ukraine Minister of Foreign Affairs
10 civilians were killed in the Kharkiv region on March 7. The total count of civilians killed since the start of the Russian aggression now stood at 143, the National Police of Kharkiv region confirmed on Monday (8:21 PM Ukrainian Time).
Earlier in the day, the Ukrainian Minister of Foreign Affairs Dmytro Kuleba had mentioned that Ukraine and its ‘partners’ have initiated a number of international legal procedures to ensure Russia is held responsible for its war crimes. “As of now, the talks are focussed on the cases currently tried at the Un International Court, International Criminal Court, European Human Rights Court, and others,” he stated.
Germany to discuss impact of geopolitical tensions on global food security with G7 countries
Germany will host a virtual meeting of agricultural ministers from G7 countries on Friday to discuss the impact of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on global food security and how to best stabilise food markets, the government said. - Reuters.
The United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) had stated earlier in March that Ukraine was the fifth largest exporter of wheat in the world. It held a global market share of 10% between 2016-17 to 2020-21.
Prior to the current geopolitical tensions, the FAO had expected Ukraine to export 33 million tonnes in 2021-22. This translated to becoming the third largest exporter of maize in the world.
Estee Lauder to suspend all commercial activities in Russia
Estee Lauder Companies Inc said on Monday it had decided to suspend all commercial activities in Russia, including closing all its stores in the country.
The company will also suspend brand sites and shipments to its retailers in Russia, it added-Reuters
Lviv struggling to feed people fleeing war
The mayor of Lviv said the city in far western Ukraine is struggling to feed and house the tens of thousands of people who have fled here from war-torn regions of the country.
“We really need support,” Mayor Andriy Sadovyi said.
More than 200,000 Ukrainians displaced from their homes are now in Lviv, filling up sport halls, schools, hospitals and church buildings. The historical city once popular with tourists had a population of 700,000 before the war.-AP
Japan freezes assets of 32 more Russian, Belarusian officials, oligarchs
Japan has frozen the assets of an additional 32 Russian and Belarusian officials and oligarchs, the Ministry of Finance announced on Tuesday.
Japan also is banning exports of Russia-bound oil refinery equipment and Belarus-bound general-purpose items that can be used by its military, the ministry said.-Reuters
IAEA reports second Ukraine nuclear facility damaged
The International Atomic Energy Agency said Monday it has received reports of artillery shells damaging a nuclear research facility in Ukraine’s besieged second city Kharkiv, but there was no “radiological consequence”.
The facility is part of the Kharkiv Institute of Physics and Technology, a research institute that produces radioactive material for medical and industrial applications.
Because the site’s “inventory of radioactive material is very low” and kept at a “subcritical” state, the IAEA said “the damage reported to it would not have had any radiological consequence.”-AFP
World Bank approves extra $489 million support package for Ukraine
The World Bank on Monday approved an additional $489-million package in support for Ukraine, to be made available immediately and dubbed “Financing of Recovery from Economic Emergency in Ukraine,” or “FREE Ukraine.”
“The package approved by the Board consists of a supplemental loan for $350 million and guarantees in the amount of $139 million,” it said in a statement.-AFP
Russia recruiting Syrians to fight in Ukraine, Pentagon says
Russia is recruiting Syrians and other foreign fighters as it ramps up its assault on Ukraine, the Pentagon said Monday.
Moscow entered the Syrian civil war in 2015 on the side of President Bashar al-Assad’s regime, and the country has been mired in a conflict marked by urban combat for more than a decade.
According to the Wall Street Journal, U.S. officials said that Russia, which launched an invasion into its Eastern European neighbor on February 24, has in recent days recruited fighters from Syria, hoping they can help take the capital Kyiv and other cities.
“We do believe that the accounts of them—the Russians—seeking Syrian fighters to augment their forces in Ukraine, we believe there’s truth to that,” Pentagon spokesman John Kirby told reporters.-AFP
Ukraine says Russian general killed
A Russian general was killed in the fighting around Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second-largest city, which Russian forces have been trying to seize since the invasion began, the Ukrainian military intelligence agency said.
It identified him as Maj. Gen. Vitaly Gerasimov, 45, and said he had fought with Russian forces in Syria and Chechnya and had taken part in the seizure of Crimea in 2014.
Russia has not commented.-AP
Australia sanctions Russian ‘propagandists’
The Australian government says it is placing sanctions on Moscow’s “propagandists and purveyors of disinformation” who legitimatize Russia’s invasion as the “de-Nazification” of Ukraine.
“This includes driving and disseminating false narratives about the ‘de-Nazification’ of Ukraine, making erroneous allegations of genocide against ethnic Russians in eastern Ukraine, and promoting the recognition of the so-called Donetsk People’s Republic and Luhansk People’s Republic as independent,” Foreign Minister Marise Payne said in a statement on Tuesday.-AP
Crisis deepens, Ukraine accuses Moscow of ‘medieval’ tactics
The humanitarian crisis in Ukraine deepened Monday as Russian forces intensified their shelling and food, water, heat and medicine grew increasingly scarce, in what the country condemned as a medieval-style siege by Moscow to batter it into submission.
Russia “is resorting to tactics reminiscent of medieval siege warfare, encircling cities, cutting off escape routes and pounding the civilian population with heavy ordnance,” said Jonathan Gimblett, a member of Ukraine’s legal team.-AP
‘India concerned that Sumy humanitarian corridor did not materialise’: Tirumurti to Security Council
India told the United Nations Security Council on Monday that it was concerned that a humanitarian corridor did not emerge for Indian students in Sumy, Ukraine, despite New Delhi urging both Russia and Ukraine to permit such a corridor.
Ukraine, Russia fail to agree on refugee corridors
Ukraine and Russia made tentative progress in talks Monday but failed to reach a deal on creating "humanitarian corridors" from pummelled cities, as the bloodshed from Moscow's invasion mounted.
Kyiv said there had been "positive results" from the third round of negotiations, focused on giving civilians evacuation routes from besieged towns, but Russia said its expectations from the talks were "not fulfilled".
Students in Sumy were in their buses when ceasefire broke
They had packed their bags, boarded the buses and the engines had started and after surviving 12 days of war between Russia and Ukraine, the first lot of students out of the nearly 700 in Sumy were homeward-bound. But then the buses came to a halt.
Ready to stop ‘in a moment’ if Ukraine meets terms: Russia
Russia has told Ukraine it is ready to halt military operations "in a moment" if Kiev meets a list of conditions, the Kremlin spokesman said on Monday.
Dmitry Peskov said Moscow was demanding that Ukraine cease military action, change its constitution to enshrine neutrality, acknowledge Crimea as Russian territory, and recognise the separatist republics of Donetsk and Luhansk as independent states.