Latest Ukraine updates: UN urges safe passage for civilians

Russia-Ukraine news from March 7: Kyiv says Russian shelling is preventing evacuation of civilians and delivery of aid.

A man and a child escape from the town of Irpin
Civilians are attempting to escape from the town of Irpin after heavy shelling on the only escape route used by locals [Carlos Barria/Reuters]
  • A third round of talks has resulted in small progress on evacuation logistics, Ukraine says.
  • Moscow has announced a temporary ceasefire and a plan to evacuate Ukrainians from several cities, mainly to Russia and Belarus.
  • Kyiv has rejected the proposal as “immoral” and said Ukrainian citizens should be allowed to evacuate to other parts of Ukraine.
  • Previous ceasefire attempts in the southeastern port city of Mariupol collapsed over the weekend.
  • Russia’s top diplomat will reportedly meet with his Ukrainian counterpart on Thursday in Turkey.
  • The UN has warned that Russia’s invasion has triggered the fasting-growing refugee crisis in Europe since World War II. More than 1.7 million people have fled the conflict.

INTERACTIVE Russia-Ukraine map Who controls what in Ukraine DAY 12

This live blog is now closed; thank you for joining us. For the latest news on March 8, go here.

Here are the updates for March 7:

Russia will not deploy conscript soldiers in Ukraine: Putin

Russia will not use any conscript soldiers in Ukraine, Putin has said.

“I emphasise that conscript soldiers are not participating in hostilities and will not participate in them. And there will be no additional call-up of reservists,” Putin said in a televised message to mark International Women’s Day, reiterating similar remarks he made last week.

War not going as Russia planned: UK ambassador to US

Karen Pierce, the UK ambassador to the US, has suggested that the invasion of Ukraine is not going as planned for Russia, saying that Moscow has been met with transatlantic unity and Ukrainian resistance.

“If I sat in Moscow and I were an advisor to President Putin, I would be interested in the fact that because of this invasion of Ukraine, more and more countries want a relationship with NATO. NATO members have been brought closer together,” Pierce told Al Jazeera in an interview.

“The US and Europe have been united in their economic approach, and NATO forces – although only on NATO territory – have been brought closer to the borders of Russia proper. And Ukrainians have really found their identity whereas President Putin thought he would be welcomed.

“So if I sat in the Kremlin, I don’t know from a Russian perspective that this is turning out the way they want. And in addition, their forces are not doing as well as they had planned in Ukraine itself.”

Blinken discusses Ukraine with Israeli counterpart

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has discussed the Russian invasion of Ukraine with his Israeli counterpart Yair Lapid during talks in Riga, Latvia, the State Department said.

The two top diplomats met to “exchange views regarding how to stop the premeditated, unprovoked, and unjustified attack by Putin’s military forces on Ukraine and its people as well as the urgent need for Russia to cease its aggression, allow for humanitarian corridors, and fully withdraw from Ukrainian territory,” spokesperson Ned Price said in a statement.

UK refuses to drop visa requirement for Ukraine refugees

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has rejected calls for the United Kingdom to ease visa requirements for Ukrainian refugees fleeing conflict.

“We are a very, very generous country. What we want though is control and we want to be able to check.” Johnson told reporters.

“I think it’s sensible given what’s going on in Ukraine to make sure that we have some basic ability to check who is coming in.”

The British government has been criticised for requiring refugees to first acquire a visa, leaving some Ukrainians stranded in the French city of Calais.

Safe passage for humanitarian aid must be guaranteed: UN

UN humanitarian chief Martin Griffiths stressed the need to guarantee safe passage for civilians and humanitarian aid in areas of active conflict in Ukraine.

“Two weeks ago few people thought the scenario we find ourselves in today was thinkable,” Griffiths said.

The UN humanitarian chief said civilians in places including Mariupol, Kharkiv and Melitopol are in desperate need of aid, especially life-saving medical supplies.

Griffiths’ comments came as Security Council members worked on a resolution to address the humanitarian situation in Ukraine.

Russia warns it could cut gas supplies via Nord Stream 1

Russia could cut gas supplies via the Nord Stream 1 pipeline to Germany, but it has not made such a decision yet, Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Novak has said.

“In connection with unfounded accusations against Russia regarding the energy crisis in Europe and the imposition of a ban on Nord Stream 2, we have every right to take a matching decision and impose an embargo on gas pumping through the Nord Stream 1 gas pipeline,” Novak said in a statement broadcast on state television.

“But so far we are not taking such a decision,” he added.

Odesa prepares its defences amid fears of Russian attack

Odesa, which Ukraine fears could be the next target of Russia’s offensive in the south, is the country’s main port and is vital for its economy.

But the city of one million people close to the Romanian and Moldovan borders also holds a special place in the Russian imagination.

See pictures here.

Sandbag barricades are constructed as part of defense preparations
Sandbag barricades are constructed as part of defence preparations [Maksym Voitenko/Anadolu Agency]

Russian forces open fire on media vehicle

Swiss photojournalist Guillaume Briquet narrowly escaped bullets fired by Russian forces on Sunday as he travelled a road in southern Ukraine on a vehicle clearly marked as “press.”

Reporters Without Borders (RSF) said on Twitter that “the targeting of journalists is a war crime.”

“Following the recent spate of attacks on journalists covering the war in #Ukraine, we urge reporters currently in the field to exercise extreme caution,” the organisation said.

Man arrested after driving truck into Russian embassy gates in Ireland

A man has been arrested for driving a truck through the gates of the Russian embassy in Dublin in protest at Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.

One video showed the man, speaking with an Irish accent, hand out photographs that he said were of a family killed in Ukraine on Sunday and telling those gathered outside that he wanted the Russian ambassador “to leave this country”.

The Russian Embassy described the incident in a statement as a “criminal act of insanity” that was a cause of extreme concern.

US, EU determined to ‘raise costs’ of Russia’s invasion

US President Joe Biden has held a secure video call with the leaders of France, Germany and the UK, in which they reaffirmed their determination to “raise the costs on Russia for its invasion of Ukraine,” the White House said in a statement.

They also underscored their commitment to providing security, economic, and humanitarian assistance to Ukraine and discussed their respective recent engagements with the Ukrainian and Russian presidents.

Nearly 100 percent of pre-staged Russian forces in Ukraine: US official

Russian President Vladimir Putin has now deployed into Ukraine nearly 100 percent of the more than 150,000 forces that he had pre-staged before the invasion, a senior US defence official had said.

“That’s our best estimate right now,” the official told reporters, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Twelve days after starting its invasion of Ukraine, Russian forces have largely stalled north of Kyiv and still do not control the skies over Ukraine, increasingly relying on missile and artillery attacks.

More than 1.7 million have fled Ukraine: UN

More than 1.7 million people have so far fled the war in Ukraine, according to the United Nation’s refugee agency, as thousands more stream across the borders.

A total of 1,735,068 civilians, mostly women and children, have crossed the border into Central Europe as of Sunday, the UNHCR said.

Poland has received more than one million Ukrainian refugees since the conflict began on February 24. The European Union could see as many as five million Ukrainian refugees if Russia’s bombardment of Ukraine continues, the EU’s top diplomat, Josep Borrell, said.

Third round of talks ends

Ukraine’s negotiator has said talks with Russia aimed at opening humanitarian corridors have yielded some progress on evacuation logistics, but none that significantly improves the broader situation.

The two sides will continue talks on a ceasefire, Mykhailo Podolyak said in a video statement.

Russia’s top negotiator Vladimir Medinsky said he expected that humanitarian corridors in Ukraine would finally start functioning Tuesday. He said no progress had been made on a political settlement, but voiced hope that the next round could be more productive.

“Our expectations from the talks have failed, but we hope that we would be able to make a more significant step forward next time,” Medinsky said. “The talks will continue.”

Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine Mykola Tochytskyi, left, Minister of Defense of Ukraine Oleksiy Reznikov, second left, the Head of the Ukrainian Servant of the People faction Davyd Arakhamia, third left, Adviser to the Head of the Office of the President of Ukraine Mykhailo Podoliak, fourth left, Russian Ambassador to Belarus Boris Gryzlov, fifth right, Leonid Slutsky, chairman of the Russian State Duma's International Affairs Committee, fourth right, Russian Presidential Aide and the head of the Russian delegation Vladimir Medinsky, third right, Deputy Minister of Defense Alexander Fomin, second right, and Deputy Foreign Minister Andrei Rudenko pose prior the talks between delegations from Ukraine and Russia in Belarus' Brest region.
A third round of talks has ended with little progress [Maxim Guchek/Belta/AFP]

Road out of Mariupol mined: Red Cross

The Red Cross has said that its staff, along with other civilians, were unable to leave Ukraine’s besieged port city of Mariupol because of the resumption of hostilities and the lack of a safe exit route.

Dominik Stillhart, director of operations at the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), told BBC radio that the team had attempted to leave on Sunday but realised the road indicated to them was mined.

Two attempts at evacuating civilians from Mariupol failed during the weekend as both Ukrainians and Russians blamed each other for violating a previously agreed ceasefire.

EU to start examining Ukraine, Georgia, Moldova membership bids

EU nations have agreed to start examining membership bids submitted by Ukraine, Georgia and Moldova.

The ex-Soviet states last week rushed to file applications to join the bloc after the Kremlin launched its attack on Ukraine.

The move by the 27 member states is the first step in the bloc’s process for deciding whether to allow new members to join, which can last for years.

Blinken tells nervous Baltics NATO will protect them from Russia

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has assured Lithuania and Latvia of NATO protection and American support as he made quick visits to two of three Baltic states.

In the Latvian capital, Riga, Blinken said the Baltics have “formed a democratic wall that now stands against the tide of autocracy” that Russia is pushing in Europe.

“The United States is more committed than ever to standing with you as our democracies rise to the challenge,” he said.

Read the story here.

European leaders oppose banning Russian energy imports

The leaders of Germany, the UK and the Netherlands have cautioned against abruptly banning Russian energy imports, saying there were no immediate alternative supplies.

The pushback came after the United States on Sunday said it was in “active discussions” with European nations about shutting down Russian oil imports as part of sanctions against Moscow.

“Europe has deliberately exempted energy supplies from Russia from sanctions,” German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said in a statement.

“Supplying Europe with energy for heat generation, mobility, electricity supply and industry cannot be secured in any other way at the moment.”

Boeing suspends buying titanium from Russia

Boeing Co says it has suspended buying titanium from Russia, despite there being no sanctions yet on VSMPO-Avisma, the world’s largest producer.

Russia’s VSMPO-Avisma said in a statement said it “regrets” the suspension of contracts with its long-term American partner.

Boeing said in a statement that “our inventory and diversity of titanium sources provide sufficient supply for airplane production.”

UK to provide Ukraine with an additional $230m of aid

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said the United Kingdom will pledge another 175 million pounds ($230m) in aid for Ukraine to help it deal with a growing humanitarian crisis.

The extra funding brings the UK’s overall financial support for Ukraine to about 400 million pounds ($525m), he told reporters.

Several civilians killed in Makariv air raid, emergency services say

At least 13 civilians have been killed in an air raid on a bread factory in the town of Makariv, on the outskirts of Kyiv, according to local emergency services.

The services said five people had been rescued from the building’s rubble, adding that about 30 people were believed to have been at the factory before the attack.

Al Jazeera was unable to independently verify the figures provided.

Lviv mayor appeals for international help amid mounting humanitarian crisis

The mayor of Lviv says his city, situated in western Ukraine, has reached the limits of its capacity to help people displaced by Russia’s assault and appealed to international organisations for help.

“We understand there will be another wave [of refugees] … and call on international humanitarian organisations to come here and help,” Andriy Sadoviy said.

He added that several hundred thousand people had already passed through Lviv as they headed west seeking safety. Some 200,000 internally displaced persons were now staying in Lviv, and 50,000 were going through Lviv railway station daily, Sadoviy said.

Canada to impose sanctions on 10 individuals close to Putin

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says Canada will impose new sanctions on 10 individuals close to Putin.

“Today Canada is announcing new sanctions on 10 individuals complicit in this unjustified invasion, [and] this includes former and current senior government officials, oligarchs and supporters of the Russian leadership,” he told a news conference in London, where he was beginning a diplomatic tour of Europe.

“The names of these individuals come from a list compiled by jailed opposition leader Alexey Navalny,” he added.

Russian billionaires call for peace

Vladimir Lisin, a Russian billionaire, has called for a peaceful, diplomatic resolution to the war in Ukraine in an open letter to employees at Russian steelmaker NLMK.

Lisin, NLMK’s chairman and main shareholder, said in the letter that lost lives in Ukraine were a tragedy that is hard to justify.

Lisin’s remarks – posted on social networks by an NLMK employee – came as fellow Russian billionaire Oleg Deripaska, the founder of Russian aluminium giant Rusal, also said peace was needed as soon as possible.

“We need peace as soon as possible,” Deripaska said on the Telegram messaging app. “The whole world will be different after these events and Russia will be different.”

‘Destruction and misery’ in central Kharkiv

Al Jazeera’s Charles Stratford has entered Kharkiv, in northeastern Ukraine, where he witnessed “scenes of utter devastation” in the centre of the city following shelling by Russian forces.

“I am absolutely shocked by what we have seen … this is what the power of Russian bombing can do to civilian areas,” Stratford said from the scene, where an enormous Russian shell exploded several days ago.

He described the immediate area as “completely devastated”, noting there were buildings still on fire and that a nearby church had been badly damaged, with all of its windows blown out.

“The people here cannot in any way wrap their heads around how the leader of a civilised country like Russia could do this to a city like Kharkiv,” Stratford said.

“Some of the people we spoke to are literally walking around in a daze, unable to comprehend what has just happened to them … and their beloved city.

“And now look at it. It has. It is an absolutely shocking scene of destruction and misery.”

Ukraine, Russia begin third round of talks

The third round of talks between Ukrainian and Russian delegations has started.

Moments before the negotiations began, Ukrainian presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolyak urged Moscow to halt Russian forces’ “large-scale violence against civilians”.

“In a few minutes, we will start talking to representatives of a country that seriously believes large-scale violence against civilians is an argument. Prove that this is not the case,” Podolyak tweeted.

Ukraine’s foreign ministry says Russian shelling preventing evacuations, aid deliveries

Russian shelling is preventing the evacuation of civilians from Kyiv, Mariupol, Sumy, Kharkiv, Volnovakha and Mykolaiv, Ukraine’s foreign ministry has said.

“This prevents the safe passage of humanitarian columns with Ukrainian and foreign citizens, as well as the delivery of medicines and food,” the ministry said in a statement.

Latvia wants permanent US troops, foreign minister tells Blinken

Latvia’s foreign minister has called for a permanent contingent of troops from the United States to be stationed in his country following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

“Looking at the most recent developments we would be very happy about the permanent presence of US forces here in Latvia,” Edgars Rinkevics told a joint news conference in Riga alongside his US counterpart Antony Blinken.

“We have no illusions about Putin’s Russia anymore; we don’t really see any good reason to assume Russia might change its policy,” he added.

UN says more than 400 civilians killed amid Russia’s offensive

The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) says it has confirmed the deaths of 406 civilians, including 27 children, who have been killed in Ukraine since Russia’s invasion began on February 24.

OHCHR, which has monitors in Ukraine, warned the true death toll was likely much higher.

Al Jazeera was unable to independently verify the figures provided.

WHO confirms additional attacks on healthcare infrastructure

There have been at least seven attacks on Ukraine’s healthcare infrastructure since the beginning of Russia’s offensive, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

“As of 7 March, nine verified incidents of attacks on health care in Ukraine have been published on the Surveillance System of Attacks on Healthcare (SSA), seven with ‘Confirmed’ certainty level, and two with ‘Possible’ certainty level,” a WHO official told the Reuters news agency in an email, referring to the organisation’s database.

The number of verified attacks was up from four the previous day.

The official gave no information on the perpetrators of the incidents since the WHO surveillance system has no mandate to collect information on them.

Russia will stop offensive ‘in a moment’ if Ukraine meets demands, Kremlin says

Russia has told Ukraine it is ready to halt its offensive “in a moment” if Kyiv meets a list of conditions, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov has said.

Peskov told the Reuters news agency that Moscow was demanding that Ukraine cease military action and change its constitution to enshrine neutrality.

The Kremlin also wants Kyiv to acknowledge the annexed Crimean Peninsula as Russian territory and recognise the self-proclaimed separatist republics of Donetsk and Luhuansk in Ukraine’s east as independent states, he added.

Peskov told Reuters all the demands had been formulated and announced during the first two rounds of talks between Russian and Ukrainian delegations, which took place last week.

EU to discuss Ukraine’s membership bid this week

European Union leaders will discuss Ukraine’s application to join the 27-nation bloc in the coming days, EU Council President Charles Michel has said.

“The EU’s solidarity, friendship and unprecedented assistance for Ukraine are unwavering. We will discuss Ukraine’s membership application in coming days,” Michel tweeted.

EU leaders are scheduled to discuss the war in Ukraine and the country’s bid to join the bloc at an informal summit in Paris on Thursday.

Hundreds of Ukrainian communities without electricity or water supplies, official says

Attacks by Russian forces have left more than 900 communities in Ukraine without any supplies of electricity, water and heating, Ukrainian presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolyak has said.

“Barbarians of the XXI century. Russia damaged/destroyed 202 schools, 34 hospitals, 1500+ residential buildings,” Podolyak tweeted.

His remarks came as Ukraine’s energy ministry said 646,000 people across the country had no access to electricity, and that 130,000 were currently without gas.

Russia sustaining ‘huge losses’: Analyst

The military situation in Ukraine did not change radically over the weekend, according to Nikolay Mitrokhin, a Russia expert and researcher at Germany’s Bremen University.

Mitrokhin told Al Jazeera there had been limited Russian attacks near the key southeastern port city of Mariupol and in the eastern region of Luhansk and Ukrainian counterattacks near the northeastern city of Kharkiv.

“There is a general feeling that after 12 days of fighting both sides exhausted their resources,” he said.

Some of Russia’s vehicles – including tanks and armoured personnel carriers – have become stuck in heavy mud or have run out of fuel, Mitrokhin added.

Amid the issues, Moscow is now concentrating more forces on the Ukrainian border ready for a second offensive, he said. Meanwhile, Ukraine’s military equipment is scattered nationwide, Mitrokhin added.

But while Ukraine has tens of thousands of battle-tested servicemen and volunteers to call on, Russia “faces a crisis with decent infantry,” he said.

“There aren’t many cadres with combat experience,” Mitrokhin added, noting that Moscow was sustaining “huge losses”.

Reporting by Mansur Mirovalev in Kyiv.

A column of Russian military vehicles is seen abandoned in the snow, in a forest not far from Kharkiv
A column of Russian military vehicles is seen abandoned in the snow, in a forest not far from Kharkiv [Sergey Bobok/AFP]

Ukraine to hold next bond auction on Tuesday

Ukraine will on Tuesday hold the next auction of local one-year bonds to raise money for its fight against invading Russian forces, the country’s finance ministry has announced.

The Ukrainian government has said it hopes to raise about $1.36bn through new bond issues amid Moscow’s assault. It raised 8.1 billion hryvnias ($273m) in its first such auction last week.

Russian defence official accuses Ukraine of thwarting humanitarian corridors

A senior official in Russia’s defence ministry has accused Kyiv of not complying with agreements to create humanitarian corridors to evacuate civilians, according to a report by the country’s Interfax news agency.

“As of 1:00 pm, the Ukrainian side did not fulfill any conditions for the creation of humanitarian corridors,” Mikhail Mizintsev, the head of Russia’s national defence control centre, was quoted by Interfax as saying.

It was not immediately clear if Mizintsev meant 1pm Moscow time (10:00 GMT) or 1pm Kyiv time (11:00 GMT).

Ukrainian forces have retaken Mykolaiv regional airport, local official says

Ukrainian forces have recaptured the regional airport in Mykolaiv, southern Ukraine, from Russian troops, according to the region’s governor.

“The roads are open, we control the bridges, you can safely leave Mykolaiv [city] and other towns,” Vitaliy Kim said in a televised statement.

Ukraine says Black Sea port of Olvia hit by ‘strike’

Ukraine’s infrastructure ministry says the country’s Black Sea port of Olvia, which is under concession to Qatari seaport operator QTerminals, has been hit by a military “strike”.

Nobody was wounded, the ministry said without providing further details.

QTerminals, a joint venture between state-owned Qatar Ports Management (Mwani Qatar) and shipping and logistics group Qatar Navigation (Milaha), won the 35-year concession in 2020 to develop and operate the port.

Russia’s foreign minister to meet Ukrainian counterpart: Reports

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and his Ukrainian counterpart Dmytro Kuleba plan to meet on Thursday on the sidelines of a diplomatic forum in the Turkish resort of Antalya, according to reports by Russian news agencies and Turkey’s top diplomat.

Mevlut Cavusoglu told Turkish media the pair had agreed to meet and said he would also attend the discussions.

Ankara, which has close ties with both Moscow and Kyiv, has repeatedly tried to position itself as a mediator between the two sides.

Kyiv is yet to confirm if Kuleba will meet with Lavrov as reported.

Third round of Ukraine-Russia talks to be held soon

A third round of talks between delegations from Ukraine and Russia will start at 4pm Kyiv time (14:00 GMT), Mykhailo Podolyak, one of Kyiv’s negotiators, has said.

The two sides agreed to a tentative plan to create humanitarian corridors to evacuate civilians during the second round of talks, held last Thursday.

Thousands of civilians evacuated from Irpin, Ukrainian police say

About 2,000 civilians have been evacuated from the town of Irpin, on the outskirts of Kyiv, according to a statement by local police.

The statement did not make clear over what period the evacuations had taken place.

Blinken says US has ‘sacrosanct’ commitment to NATO’s Article 5

Blinken has reasserted Washington’s commitment to NATO’s Article 5 – the alliance’s principle of collective defence – at the start of a whistle-stop diplomatic tour of the three Baltic states.

“The United States commitment to Article 5 … is sacrosanct,” the US secretary of state told reporters in Lithuania.

The clause means any attack against one country in the 30-member state alliance is considered as an attack against all of its signatories, effectively committing them to protect one another.

Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia – all NATO members – are increasingly on edge as Russia presses ahead with its invasion of Ukraine.

INTERACTIVE- NATO members in Europe expand eastwards

Is Putin likely to face the ICC over Russia’s actions in Ukraine?

The International Criminal Court is investigating Putin over possible war crimes in Ukraine.

But what is the actual likelihood of him ending up before the court?

Read Al Jazeera’s analysis here.

The war that opened Europe’s borders

In this episode, Al Jazeera’s The Take podcast looks at Europe’s response to the spiralling humanitarian crisis unleashed by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Paris denies asking Putin for evacuation routes to Belarus, Russia

French President Emmanuel Macron did not ask Russian President Vladimir Putin to open humanitarian corridors from Ukrainian cities to Russia and Belarus, Macron’s office has said in a rebuttal of claims made by the Kremlin.

Moscow announced the proposed escape routes from Kharkiv, Kyiv, Mariupol and Sumy after Putin and Macron spoke by telephone on Sunday. It said the move was taken in response to a “personal request” by the French leader.

But the Elysee Palace told the AFP news agency that no such request was made.

Macron instead insisted on “the respect of international humanitarian law, the protection of civilian populations and the supply of aid,” said a French presidency official, who asked not to be named.

Indian PM urges Putin to hold direct talks with Zelenskyy: Report

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has urged Putin to hold direct talks with his Ukrainian counterpart Volodymyr Zelenskyy, according to an Indian government source quoted by Reuters.

Modi and Putin spoke by phone on Monday, according to the source.

“Prime Minister Modi urged President Putin to hold direct talks with President Zelenskyy of Ukraine, in addition to the ongoing negotiations between their teams,” the source said.

Zelenskyy asks allies for military aircraft, boycott of Russian oil

Ukraine’s president has asked Kyiv’s allies to provide it with military aircraft and to boycott Russian oil as well as other exports.

“If the invasion [of Ukraine] continues and Russia has not abandoned its plans against Ukraine, then a new sanctions package is needed … for the sake of peace,” Zelenskyy said in a video address.

Humanitarian corridors are still not open, Ukrainian official says

Russia’s proposed humanitarian corridors are still not up and running, Ukraine’s deputy prime minister has said.

Iryna Vereshchuk said there were nearly 300,000 civilians requiring evacuation from the key southeastern port city of Mariupol, which is under assault from Moscow’s forces.

Russia’s defence ministry had earlier said the routes would be opened in tandem with a ceasefire that would take effect from 07:00 GMT.

A couple is seen embracing as people fleeing Russia's invasion board a train in Odesa
Russian forces’ multipronged attack on Ukraine has sparked a mass exodus from the country [Alexandros Avramidis/Reuters]

Where do Russia’s proposed humanitarian corridors lead?

Moscow’s suggested exit routes largely lead to Russia and Belarus. The details, according to Russia’s defence ministry, are as follows:

  • There is one exit route from the capital, Kyiv, which leads to Gomel, in southeastern Belarus.
  • There is one exit route from Kharkiv, in northeastern Ukraine, which leads to Belgorod, in southeast Russia.
  • There are two exit routes from Sumy, also in northeastern Ukraine. One leads to Poltava, in Ukraine. The other leads to Belgorod.
  • There are two exit routes from Mariupol, in Ukraine’s southeast. One leads to Rostov-on Don, in Russia. The other leads to Zaporizhzhia, in Ukraine.

Russia shuns Ukraine war hearing at UN court

Moscow has declined to send a delegation to the United Nations’ top court for a hearing into Ukraine’s request for its judges to order Russia to halt its invasion.

“The court regrets the non-appearance of the Russian Federation in these oral proceedings,” International Court of Justice (ICJ) President Joan Donoghue said at the start of proceedings.

Russian Ambassador to the Netherlands Alexander Shulgin wrote to the court and “indicated that his government did not intend to participate”, she said.

Russian police detained 5,000 people at anti-war protests, monitor says

Protest monitoring group OVD-Info says Russian police detained 5,020 people on Sunday for taking part in anti-war demonstrations held in dozens of cities throughout the country.

The rallies marked the latest in a string of anti-war demonstrations in Russia since Moscow launched its offensive. More than 13,300 people have been arrested for taking part in the protests, according to protest monitoring group OVD-Info.

Russia says six humanitarian corridors to be opened in Ukraine

Russia has said that six humanitarian corridors will be opened around Ukrainian cities to allow civilians to escape.

“Detailed information about the humanitarian corridors was given to the Ukrainian side in advance,” Russian Defence Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov said.

Kyiv accuses Moscow of manipulation over humanitarian corridors

Ukraine’s deputy prime minister has accused Moscow of trying to manipulate French President Emmanuel Macron and other Western leaders by demanding that any humanitarian corridors in Ukraine exit through Russia or Belarus.

Iryna Vereshchuk said Kyiv was calling on Russia to agree to a ceasefire to allow Ukrainians to evacuate towards the western Ukrainian city of Lviv instead.

Ukraine received Russia’s proposal concerning humanitarian corridors early on Monday morning after Macron held talks with Putin, Vereshchuk told a televised briefing.

Humanitarian corridors unlikely while Russia keeps attacking, Kyiv says

Kyiv has said that negotiations are taking place with Russia on establishing humanitarian corridors, but warned that such escape routes are unlikely to be set up while Moscow’s forces press ahead with their offensive.

Oleksiy Arestovich, an adviser to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s chief of staff, said each Ukrainian should be allowed to decide where they want to go but advised against evacuating to Russia.

A man and a child are seen escaping from the town of Irpin
Moscow claims it is only targeting military infrastructure, but Kyiv says Russian attacks have targeted civilian areas in several cities nationwide [Carlos Barria/Reuters]

China says friendship with Russia is ‘rock solid’

China’s friendship with Russia is “rock solid” and the prospects for cooperation between Moscow and Beijing are very broad, the country’s foreign minister has said.

Wang Yi’s remarks, delivered at a news conference on the sidelines of China’s annual meeting of parliament, come after Beijing signalled last week that it was ready to play a role in brokering a ceasefire.

Until now, China’s government has attempted to strike a delicate balancing act over Moscow’s incursion. It has refrained from calling Russia’s attack an “invasion” and neither openly denounced nor supported the move.

Evacuation routes ‘point in the direction of Belarus, Russia’: AJE correspondent

Al Jazeera’s Jonah Hull, reporting from Lviv, says there is “no independent verification whatsoever” that Russia is in fact observing a ceasefire to allow for civilian evacuations.

“Significant points of caution need to be applied to what is going on here, on the one hand, because there is no Ukrainian confirmation that it is in any way involved in these corridors,” Hull said.

“The previous two attempts [at evacuation] out of Mariupol were the result of joint agreement between the two sides that came out of ceasefire talks. This looks much more like a unilateral Russian act and indeed a Ukrainian presidential spokesperson has called these actions immoral,” he added.

“Because, and this is the second point of caution, the routes of evacuation being laid out by the Russian ministry of defence point in the direction of Belarus and Russia – which raises the very obvious question just how many Ukrainians under Russian bombardment, knowing that, would actually make use of them.”

Ukraine says Russia’s stance on humanitarian corridors ‘completely immoral’

Ukraine has slammed as “completely immoral” Russia’s stance on humanitarian corridors after Moscow suggested it would allow people to flee Ukrainian cities provided they exited to Belarus or Russia.

A spokesman for Zelenskyy said Ukrainian citizens should be allowed to leave their homes through Ukrainian territory and accused Russia of deliberately hampering previous evacuation attempts.

“This is a completely immoral story. People’s suffering is used to create the desired television picture,” the spokesman said in a written message. “These are citizens of Ukraine, they should have the right to evacuate to the territory of Ukraine.”

French minister: Room for further sanctions against Russia

France and Europe still have margin for manoeuvre to implement further sanctions against Russia for invading Ukraine, French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire has said.

“Yes, there are margins for manoeuvre. All options are on the table,” Le Maire told BFMTV and RMC Radio.

The 27-nation European Union has imposed three packages of sanctions on Moscow over its aggression on Ukraine, including freezing Russian central bank assets and disconnecting seven Russian banks from the SWIFT financial messaging system.

China Red Cross to provide humanitarian aid to Ukraine

The Red Cross Society of China will provide humanitarian aid to Ukraine, the country’s foreign minister has said.

Wang’s confirmation of the move to supply aid came as he reiterated a call for talks between Moscow and Kyiv to continue.

One million Ukrainians flee to Poland

More than one million Ukrainians have fled to Poland since the start of the Russian invasion, including 142,300 on Sunday, the Polish Border Guard has said.

“Traffic on the Polish-Ukrainian border is growing, today at 07.00 [am] 42,000 people arrived in Poland from Ukraine,” the agency tweeted.

Russia likely seeking to reduce Ukraine’s access to news: UK intelligence

Russia is probably targeting Ukraine’s communication infrastructure to reduce access to reliable news sources, the UK’s defence ministry has said.

“Ukrainian internet access is also highly likely being disrupted as a result of collateral damage from Russian strikes on infrastructure,” the ministry said in its latest daily intelligence update.

UK may ease immigration rules for Ukrainian refugees

The UK’s Home Secretary, Priti Patel, wants to set up a new scheme to allow more refugees fleeing conflict in Ukraine to enter the country, according to a report by The Sun newspaper.

The UK has already announced visa schemes for those who have family in the country or a willing sponsor, but the government has been criticised by opposition lawmakers for not doing enough to help compared with its European neighbours.

“I’m urgently escalating our response to the growing humanitarian crisis,” Patel told The Sun, citing her own experience visiting the Polish border last week.

“I am now investigating the legal options to create a humanitarian route. This means anyone without ties to the UK fleeing the conflict in Ukraine will have a right to come to this nation.”

Japan in talks with US, Europe over banning Russian oil imports

Japan, which counts Russia as its fifth-biggest supplier of crude oil, is in discussions with the US and European countries about possibly banning Russian oil imports, the country’s Kyodo News news agency has reported.

The report comes after Blinken said on Sunday that Washington and its European allies were exploring the possibility.

Asked about a potential embargo on Russian oil imports, Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno declined to comment on the country’s communication with the US. Russia accounted for 3.63 percent of Japan’s imports of crude oil last year.

While sanctions imposed on Russia are not expected to directly affect Japan’s ability to ensure a stable supply of liquefied natural gas (LNG), they could indirectly affect energy-related projects, Industry Minister Koichi Hagiuda said.

Russia says it will open humanitarian corridors

Russia’s defence ministry has said it will enforce a ceasefire and open humanitarian corridors allowing civilians to leave several Ukrainian cities, including the capital, Kyiv, from 10am Moscow time (07:00 GMT), according to reports by Russian news agencies.

Exit routes will also be established from the cities of Kharkiv, Mariupol and Sumy, the ministry said.

Australian missiles ‘on the ground’ in Ukraine: Morrison

After Australia last week promised Ukraine $50m in missiles, ammunition and other military hardware to fight Russian invaders, Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Monday said: “Our missiles are on the ground now.”

He also described Russia and China’s closer relationship as opportunistic rather than strategic, labelling the alliance as an “arc of autocracy”. He said Russia and China would prefer a new world order to the one that has been in place since World War II.

Morrison criticised Beijing’s failure to condemn Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and China’s expansion of trade in Russian wheat while other countries are imposing sanctions.

S Korea to cut transactions with Russia’s central bank

South Korea has decided to sever transactions with Russia’s central bank, its foreign ministry says, in another move joining Western countries’ efforts to ratchet up sanctions against Moscow over its invasion of Ukraine.

Russia calls its actions in the neighbouring country a “special operation”.

Ukraine, Russia prepare for third round of peace talks

After nearly two weeks of war, Ukraine and Russia are expected to meet for the third round of negotiations, which both sides said could take place on Monday. The location and exact time for the talks were unclear.

The two delegations last met in the Brest region in western Belarus for two rounds of peace talks and agreed to have humanitarian corridors in place in the embattled cities of Mariupol and Volnovakha to facilitate the evacuation of civilians.

Damaged building in Kharkiv
A man walks in front of a building damaged by shelling by Russian forces in Kharkiv [Oleksandr Lapshyn/Reuters]

However, the attempt to evacuate Mariupol failed on Sunday, according to the Kremlin and the International Committee of the Red Cross.

Russia and Ukraine blamed each other for failing to adhere to the agreed ceasefire.

Russia has sought to cut off Ukraine’s access to the Sea of Azov in the south. Capturing Mariupol could allow Russia to establish a land corridor to Crimea, which it annexed in 2014.

Gold rises above $2,000 on soaring Ukraine fears

Gold has risen to more than $2,000 in Asian trade as investors flee to the safe-haven commodity over fears about the effect of the Ukraine war on the global economy.

The precious metal hit a peak of $2,000.86 an ounce, its highest level since September 2020.

Traders have been sent running to safety as Russia continues with its invasion of Ukraine, which has battered equity markets and sent oil prices to a 14-year high, adding further upward pressure to already high inflation.

US Congress to ‘explore’ Russian oil ban: Pelosi

US House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi says the chamber is “exploring” legislation to ban the import of Russian oil and that Congress intends to enact this week $10bn in aid for Ukraine in response to Russia’s military invasion of its neighbour.

“The House is currently exploring strong legislation that will further isolate Russia from the global economy,” Pelosi said in a letter.

“Our bill would ban the import of Russian oil and energy products into the United States, repeal normal trade relations with Russia and Belarus, and take the first step to deny Russia access to the World Trade Organisation.”

Russian invasion displaces Ukrainians who fled Donbas conflict

Sasha and Nastia slowly inhale the smoke from their cigarettes. Their paths have never crossed before, but they exchange knowing glances in wordless understanding when they realise they are both from Ukraine’s Donbas region.

The women, who only gave their first names, are standing in front of the main train station in Przemysl, a Polish border city, where hundreds of refugees arrive daily on trains from the Ukrainian city of Lviv.

Both have fled Ukraine following Russia’s invasion. But there is more that they have in common.

Read more here.

Two big-name accounting firms to leave Russia

Two of the so-called Big Four accounting firms – KPMG and PricewaterhouseCoopers – are pulling out of Russia over its war in Ukraine.

Both firms said they would end their relationships with their Russia-based member firms. KPMG said it was also pulling out of Belarus.

KPMG International said in a statement it would be “incredibly difficult” to have its Russia and Belarus firms leave the network. KPMG has more than 4,500 employees in the two countries.

PricewaterhouseCoopers said it has 3,700 employees at its PwC Russia firm and is working on an “orderly transition” for the business.

Ukraine official: Russia steps up nighttime shelling of cities

Russian forces have stepped up their shelling of Ukrainian cities in the centre, north and south of the country, Ukraine Presidential Adviser Oleksiy Arestovich says.

“The latest wave of missile strikes came as darkness fell,” he said on Ukrainian television.

He said the areas that came under heavy shelling include the outskirts of Kyiv, Chernihiv in the north, Mykolaiv in the south, and Kharkiv, the country’s second-largest city.

A man opens his arms as he stands near a house destroyed by Russian artillery shelling in Ukraine.
A man stands near a house destroyed in Russian artillery shelling in Horenka village near Kyiv, Ukraine [Efrem Lukatsky/AP Photo]

Arestovich described a “catastrophic” situation in the Kyiv suburbs of Bucha, Hostomel and Irpin, where efforts to evacuate residents failed. Evacuations also failed in Mariupol in the south and Volnovakha in the east because of the shelling.

Zelenskyy says Russia sanctions not sufficient

Zelenskyy has appealed to the West to strengthen sanctions on Russia.

In a video statement, the Ukrainian president criticised Western leaders for not responding to the Russian defence ministry’s earlier announcement that it would attack Ukraine’s military-industrial complex.

“I didn’t hear even a single world leader react to this,” Zelenskyy said. “The audacity of the aggressor is a clear signal to the West that the sanctions imposed on Russia are not sufficient.”

Zelenskyy also called for organising a “tribunal” to bring to justice those who order and carry out such crimes. “Think about the sense of impunity of the occupiers that they can announce such planned atrocities,” he said.

The Russian defence ministry had said its forces intend to attack Ukraine’s military-industrial complex with what it said were “precision” weapons and urged staff to leave, in a statement carried by the Russian state news agency Tass.

Volodymyr Zelensky delivering an address, standing behind a lectern
Zelenskyy criticised Western leaders for not responding to the Russian Defence Ministry’s earlier announcement that it would attack Ukraine’s military-industrial complex [Ukraine presidency via AFP]

US does not believe Russian assault on Odesa is imminent: Official

The US does not believe a Russian amphibious assault in or near the Ukrainian city of Odesa is imminent, a senior US defence official has said, amid growing concern about a potential attack on the city.

The official, who spoke to the Reuters news agency on condition of anonymity, estimated Russia had launched about 600 missiles since the start of its invasion and deployed into Ukraine about 95 percent of combat forces it had pre-staged outside of the country.

Russian forces continued to try to advance and isolate Kyiv, Kharkiv and Chernihiv and are meeting “strong Ukrainian resistance,” the official said.

Netflix halts service in Russia

Streaming giant Netflix has suspended its service in Russia.

A statement from the company cited “circumstances on the ground” for its decision to suspend its Russian service but did not offer any additional details.

The US-based platform had already halted its acquisitions in Russia, as well as its production of original programmes.

Earlier, social media giant TikTok announced it was suspending the posting of all video content from Russia in order to keep its employees safe and comply with new regulations in the country.

Moscow on Friday signed into law a bill introducing jail terms of up to 15 years for what is deemed “fake news” about the Russian army.

Bolshoi conductor quits after pressure

Tugan Sokhiev, the music director and principal conductor at Moscow’s prestigious Bolshoi Theatre, has announced his resignation, saying he came under pressure to condemn Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

The Russian said in a statement that he was resigning “with immediate effect” from his post at the Moscow theatre as well as his equivalent position at France’s Orchestre National du Capitole de Toulouse.

Read the full story here.

Russian conductor Tugan Sokhiev rehearses with the Orchestre National du Capitole of Toulouse
Tugan Sokhiev announced his resignation on March 6, 2022, saying he came under pressure to take a position on the Ukraine conflict [File: Eric Cabanis/AFP]


Russian forces interfering at Ukraine nuclear plant: IAEA

Russian forces have tightened their control on the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant since seizing it on Friday, the United Nations nuclear watchdog has warned.

The head of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Rafael Grossi, said he was “extremely concerned” after Ukraine’s nuclear regulator informed the agency that staff members at the plant, the largest in Ukraine, are now required to seek approval from Russian forces for any operation, even maintenance.

Read more about this story here.

Poland refugee count surpasses a million

More than a million refugees have crossed the border from Ukraine into Poland since Russia launched its invasion, Polish border guards have said.

“Today at 8:00 pm [19:00 GMT] the number of people from Ukraine into Poland exceeded a million. This is a million human tragedies,” the border guard service wrote on Twitter.

US mulls possible ban on oil imports from Russia

The US government is consulting with its European allies on a potential import ban of oil from Russia.

“We are now talking to our European partners and allies to look in a coordinated way at the prospect of banning the import of Russian oil,” Blinken told CNN.

The debate also revolved around “making sure that there is still an appropriate supply of oil on world markets,” Blinken said. “That’s a very active discussion as we speak.”

US President Joe Biden has not explicitly ruled out such a move.

There are more details on this development here.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken participates at the Civil Society roundtable in Chisinau, Moldova
Blinken says the US is in ‘active’ discussions with allies over a potential ban on Russian oil imports  [Olivier Douliery/Pool via Reuters]

Welcome to Al Jazeera’s continuing coverage of the Ukraine-Russia crisis.

Read all the updates from Sunday, March 6, here.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies