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Humanitarian Corridors | Moscow announces local ceasefires in Ukraine

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(Kyiv) Russia announced Monday evening the establishment of local ceasefires in several Ukrainian cities from 7 a.m. GMT on Tuesday to allow the evacuation of civilians via humanitarian corridors.

“The Russian Federation announces a ceasefire from 10 a.m. Moscow time (0700 GMT) on March 8” for the evacuation of civilians from Kyiv, as well as the cities of Sumy, Kharkiv, Cherniguiv and Mariupol, said the cell of the Russian Ministry of Defense, in charge of humanitarian operations in Ukraine, in a statement quoted by Russian news agencies.

A third round of Russian-Ukrainian negotiations ended Monday evening in Belarus, the Ukrainians evoking “some positive results” on the humanitarian corridors while the Russians judged this session “not up to expectations”.

“We have achieved some positive results regarding the logistics of the humanitarian corridors,” Mykhaïlo Podoliak, an adviser to the Ukrainian presidency and member of the delegation present at the talks, said on Twitter.

“Changes will be made, and more effective help will be given to people who suffer from the aggression of the Russian Federation,” he added.

For his part, the Russian negotiator Vladimir Medinski estimated that this third session, which took place in Belovejskaïa Pouchtcha, a national park on the border between Belarus and Poland, had not been “up to expectations”. .


PHOTO MAXIM GUCHEK, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A third round of Russian-Ukrainian negotiations ended Monday evening in Belarus.

“We hope that next time we can achieve a greater breakthrough,” he said during a press briefing broadcast by Russian state broadcaster Rossia 24.

“We hope that these negotiations will resume soon,” said another member of the Russian delegation, MP Leonid Slutsky. “But we are not going to delude ourselves and believe that in the next step we will reach the end result.”

During the previous session of talks on Thursday March 3, Ukraine and Russia had agreed to organize “humanitarian corridors” for the evacuation of civilians from combat zones.

Moscow announced on Monday morning the establishment of local ceasefires and the opening of corridors to allow the evacuation of civilians from several cities in Ukraine – including Kyiv and Kharkiv, the country’s second largest city, in the North – East – under heavy fire for several days.

But Ukraine refused to evacuate the civilians to Russia. Four of the six corridors proposed by Moscow went to Russia or Belarus, a country allied with Moscow from which the Russian army also entered Ukraine on February 24.

The UN “needs safe corridors to provide humanitarian aid in areas of hostilities” in Ukraine, UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs Martin Griffiths told the Security Council.

“Civilians in places like Mariupol, Kharkiv, Melitopol and elsewhere desperately need help, especially life-saving medical supplies,” he added, addressing an emergency council meeting devoted to the crisis. humanitarian aid caused by the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

“Many modalities are possible, but this must be done in compliance with the parties’ obligations under the laws of war,” the official said. In this context, the UN deployed a small mission to Moscow which had a “first technical interview” at the Russian Ministry of Defence. The objective is to “work on better humanitarian civil-military coordination which can enable us to intensify” UN operations, indicated Martin Griffiths.

“Raise” the price paid by Russia

US President Joe Biden, French President Emmanuel Macron, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson are “determined to continue to increase the cost” inflicted on Russia in response to the invasion of Ukraine, according to a statement released Monday by the White House after a videoconference between the four men.


PHOTO ADAM SCHULTZ, THE WHITE HOUSE VIA AP

Joe Biden spoke by videoconference with French President Emmanuel Macron, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

The very united front so far of the West in terms of economic sanctions seemed to crack Monday on the question of an embargo on the sales of Russian hydrocarbons, an option rejected by Germany, very dependent on its Russian gas supplies.

The press release published by Berlin at the end of the interview does not address the subject of sanctions, and insists above all on the “new possibilities of humanitarian aid for Ukraine” which were also discussed.

On Monday, Olaf Scholz said fossil fuel imports from Russia were “essential” for the “daily life of citizens” in Europe, and assured that the supply of the continent could not be ensured otherwise at this stage. .

Joe Biden is under increasing pressure from parliamentarians on all sides to cut off this essential source of income for Vladimir Putin’s regime.

The United States, itself a big producer of black gold, imports little Russian crude and the Democratic president repeats, when asked about an embargo, that “nothing is excluded”.

But Joe Biden has so far not taken the plunge, so as not to damage cohesion with Europeans and for fear of fueling already galloping inflation, which is undermining his popularity with American households.

Thirteen dead in bombing in Makariv

At least 13 people were killed Monday in a bombardment on Makariv, a town located on one of the main axes leading to Kyiv from the west.

At 12and the day of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the bombardments on Makariv hit an industrial bakery, according to the Ukrainian emergency services. About 30 people were there, according to the Ukrainian emergency services.

This new deadly bombardment comes as the Russian army continues its advance towards the capital, Kyiv, which expects an attack “in the coming days”, according to the Ukrainian Ministry of the Interior.


PHOTO SERGE SUPINSKY, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A man stacks sandbags to protect the entrance to a Kyiv metro station.

“Every house, every street, every checkpoint will resist until death if necessary,” promised the mayor of Kyiv and former boxing champion Vitali Klitschko, in a video on Instagram.

The humanitarian situation is also worsening day by day, with several towns under siege where food is beginning to run out and streams of inhabitants desperately trying to get out.

In Irpin, the last city-lock before Kyiv coming from the West, 10,000 people have borrowed in recent days an improbable wooden plank, half sunk in water, to escape the bombardments. The concrete bridge, gaping over the river, was destroyed by Ukrainian forces.


PHOTO DIMITAR DILKOFF, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A soldier helps a woman cross a bridge in Irpin.

Children, the elderly – some carried on carpets serving as stretchers – and families abandon pushchairs, too heavy suitcases to rush into buses and vans.

“I’m so happy I made it through, it’s going to be okay now,” said Olga, 48, who went through the evacuation route with her two dogs.

The port city of Odessa, on the shores of the Black Sea, is also increasingly threatened. Distraught families have entrusted sick old parents, too weak to flee the city, as well as their pets to the Archangelo Mikhailovsky monastery, with golden and gray domes, AFP noted.

“But we won’t be able to take everyone, alas! It is becoming too difficult to manage and we are running out of money,” says the head of the monastery, Mother Serafim.

New fighting also took place near Sumy, in the northeast, according to the head of the military administration of the region, Dmitry Jivitsky. “There are deaths,” he wrote on Telegram.

” Provocation ”

During an exchange with the President of the European Council, Charles Michel, the Russian President accused the “Ukrainian nationalist battalions of hindering [les évacuations] resorting to violence and various provocations”.

The European leader asked him to “guarantee the safe passage of humanitarian aid”.

The European Union also launched on Monday the procedure for examining the membership applications of Ukraine, Georgia and Moldova, submitted last week, which could further exacerbate tensions with Moscow.

These three former Soviet republics consider themselves threatened by Moscow’s territorial claims and claim a foothold in the West. Several member states have supported the approach of the three countries, but the procedure is long and EU membership requires unanimity.

1.7 million refugees

Ukrainians also continue to take the road to exile en masse. The war has already pushed more than 1.7 million people to seek refuge in neighboring countries, according to the UN.


PHOTO ANDREEA ALEXANDRU, ASSOCIATED PRESS

A firefighter holds the baby of a refugee who arrived at the Romanian-Ukrainian border, in Siret, Romania.

Europe can expect to receive five million exiles if the bombardments of cities continue, estimated the head of European diplomacy Josep Borrell.

Education Minister Sergiy Shkarlet said for his part that 211 schools had been damaged in the bombardments. Briton JK Rowling, author of the famous Harry Potter saga of children’s novels, has launched an appeal for donations to help children trapped in orphanages, promising to bring up to one million pounds sterling (1.2 million euros).

Since the start of the invasion of Ukraine, described as a “special military operation” by Moscow, at least 406 civilians have been killed and 801 injured, according to the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights. The UNHCR stresses, however, that its assessments are far below the reality, as they only include duly confirmed information.

Diplomacy is also trying to regain its rights, with an announced meeting of Russian Foreign Ministers Sergei Lavrov, Ukrainian Dmytro Kuleba and their Turkish counterpart Mevlüt Cavusoglu Thursday in Turkey. Kyiv has yet to confirm its participation, however.

But hopes of success are slim, Vladimir Putin continuing to set as a precondition for any dialogue Kyiv’s acceptance of all of Moscow’s demands, in particular the demilitarization of Ukraine and a neutral status for the country.

The escalation of the conflict and fears of an oil embargo continued to drive up oil prices. The price of a barrel of Brent from the North Sea soared 3.62% to 122.39 dollars during the day after approaching 140 dollars at the opening.

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