Live Ukraine Updates: Crisis Deepens, Ukraine Accuses Moscow of ‘Medieval’ Tactics
The latest developments on the Russia-Ukraine war:
LVIV, Ukraine — 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.
A third round of talks between the two sides ended with a top Ukrainian official saying there had been minor, unspecified progress toward establishing safe corridors that would allow civilians to escape the fighting. Russia’s chief negotiator said he expects those corridors to start operating Tuesday.
But that remained to be seen, given the failure of previous attempts to lead civilians to safety amid the biggest ground war in Europe since World War II.
Well into the second week of the invasion, with Russian troops making significant advances in southern Ukraine but stalled in some other regions, a top U.S. official said multiple countries were discussing whether to provide the warplanes that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has been pleading for.
Russian President Vladimir Putin’s forces continued to pummel cities with rockets, and fierce fighting raged in places.
In one of the most desperate cities, the encircled southern port of Mariupol, an estimated 200,000 people — nearly half the population of 430,000 — were hoping to flee, and Red Cross officials waited to hear when a corridor would be established.
The city is short on water, food, and power, and cellphone networks are down. Stores have been looted as residents search for essential goods.
Police moved through the city, advising people to remain in shelters until they heard official messages broadcast over loudspeakers to evacuate.
Hospitals in Mariupol are facing severe shortages of antibiotics and painkillers, and doctors performed some emergency procedures without them.
At The Hague, Netherlands, Ukraine pleaded with the International Court of Justice to order a halt to Russia’s invasion, saying Moscow is committing widespread war crimes.
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.
‘Safe Corridors’ Mostly Lead to Russia, Belarus
LVIV, Ukraine — Russia announced yet another limited cease-fire and the establishment of safe corridors to allow civilians to flee some besieged Ukrainian cities Monday. But the evacuation routes led mostly to Russia and its ally Belarus, drawing withering criticism from Ukraine and others.
Ukrainian officials accused Moscow of resorting to “medieval siege” tactics in places, and in one of the most desperate of the encircled cities, the southern port of Mariupol, there were no immediate signs of an evacuation.
Russian President Vladimir Putin’s forces continued to pummel some cities with rockets even after the announcement of corridors, and fierce fighting raged in places, indicating there would be no wider cessation of hostilities.
Efforts to set up safe passage for civilians over the weekend fell apart amid continued shelling. But the Russian Defense Ministry announced a new push Monday, saying civilians would be allowed to leave the capital of Kyiv, Mariupol, and the cities of Kharkiv and Sumy.
The two sides met for a third round of talks Monday, according to Russian state media, though hopes for any breakthrough were dim. The countries’ foreign ministers are also scheduled to meet in Turkey on Thursday, according to that country’s top diplomat.
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Ukraine War Refugees Now at 1.7 Million
GENEVA — The United Nations refugee agency says the number of people who have fled the war in Ukraine has increased to more than 1.7 million.
The U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees on Monday put the number of people who have arrived in other countries since the Russian invasion started on Feb. 24 at some 1.735 million. That’s up from more than 1.53 million on Sunday.
Nearly three-fifths of the total – nearly 1.03 million — arrived in Poland, according to the agency. Over 180,000 went to Hungary and 128,000 to Slovakia.
China Refuses to Condemn Russian Invasion
BEIJING — China’s Foreign Minister on Monday called Russia Beijing’s “most important strategic partner,” amid its continued refusal to condemn the invasion of Ukraine.
Wang Yi told reporters ties with Moscow constituted “one of the most crucial bilateral relationships in the world,” adding “no matter how perilous the international landscape, we will maintain our strategic focus and promote the development of comprehensive China-Russia partnership in the new era.”
China has broken with the U.S., Europe, and others that have imposed sanctions on Russia after its invasion of Ukraine. It says Washington is to blame for the conflict in Ukraine.
Russia Snubs UN’s Top Court
THE HAGUE, Netherlands — Ukraine pleaded with the United Nations’ top court Monday to order Russia to halt its devastating invasion, saying Moscow is already committing widespread war crimes and “resorting to tactics reminiscent of medieval siege warfare” in its 12-day-old military onslaught.
Russia snubbed the International Court of Justice hearings and its seats in the Great Hall of Justice remained empty.
On a lawn outside the court’s headquarters, the Peace Palace in The Hague, a protester placed colored candles spelling out the words: “Putin Come out.” A small group of protesters holding Ukrainian flags chanted antiwar slogans outside the building’s gates.
Ukrainian representative Anton Korynevych told judges at the International Court of Justice: “Russia must be stopped and the court has a role to play in stopping it.”
Final Big Four Accounting Firm Abandons Russia
NEW YORK — All four of the so-called Big Four accounting firms are now cutting ties with Russia over its war in Ukraine.
Deloitte on Monday was the last of the four to say it will no longer operate in Russia, joining Ernst & Young, Pricewaterhousecoopers, and KPMG in making similar announcements.
Deloitte said it is also cutting its ties to Russia-allied Belarus. The company said it is separating its global network of member firms from the firms based in Russia and Belarus.
Deloitte Global CEO Punit Renjen said in a statement “we know this is the right decision” but it will have an impact on Deloitte’s 3,000 employees in Russia and Belarus who “have no voice in the actions of their government.”
Pricewaterhousecoopers and KPMG announced they were pulling out of Russia on Sunday, and Ernst & Young earlier on Monday.
Johnson Defends UK’s Treatment of Refugees
LONDON — British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has defended his government’s treatment of Ukrainians fleeing war, after France accused U.K. authorities of “inhumane” behavior towards the refugees.
Johnson said Britain was being “very, very generous,” but would not have “a system where people can come into the U.K. without any checks or any controls at all.”
Britain says it expects to take in as many as 200,000 displaced Ukrainians. Very few have managed to reach Britain so far. The Home Office said “around 50” visas had been granted by Sunday.
French Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin said Sunday that hundreds of Ukrainian refugees in the English Channel port of Calais had been turned away and told by British authorities that they must obtain visas at U.K. embassies in Paris or Brussels.
Calling that “a bit inhumane,” Darmanin urged Britain to “stop the technocratic nit-picking.”
U.K. Home Secretary Priti Patel denied Britain was turning anyone away. The British government confirmed Monday that it did not have a visa center in Calais.
Hungary Allows NATO Troops in Country
BUDAPEST – Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban signed a decree on Monday allowing for NATO troops to station on Hungarian territory in response to the Russian invasion of neighboring Ukraine.
The government decree reaffirmed Orban’s earlier insistence that Hungary would not allow troops or lethal weapons to be delivered across its borders into Ukraine but allowed for the transit of NATO forces across its territory into other NATO member countries.
Non-lethal aid, such as personal protective equipment, first aid and medical supplies and humanitarian materials, are permitted to cross into Ukraine from Hungary, according to the decree.
EU Wants China to Mediate War
BRUSSELS — European Commission spokesman for foreign affairs Peter Stano said the EU would like to see China play a mediation role and convince Russia to stop its war in Ukraine.
“China has the potential to reach out to Moscow because of their relationship obviously and we would like China to use its influence to press for a cease-fire and to make Russia to stop the brutal unprecedented shelling and killing of civilians in Ukraine.”
Russians Turn to China for Bank Cards
LONDON — Leading Russian banks are looking into issuing cards that operate on a Chinese payment system after Visa and Mastercard said they would cut their services in Russia over the invasion of Ukraine.
Sberbank and Tinkoff Bank said Sunday that they are considering the possibility of payment cards powered by China’s UnionPay system. They told users that Visa and Mastercard will work within Russia but will stop working for payments outside of the country after Wednesday.
Russian banks are scrambling to find new ways to facilitate cross-border payments after a host of foreign companies suspended financial services, part of a larger move by the West to isolate Russia and cut it off from the global financial system.
UN Confirms 406 Civilian Deaths, 801 Injured
GENEVA — The U.N. human rights office says it has been able to confirm the deaths of 406 civilians in Ukraine since the beginning of the Russian invasion.
It said that another 801 injured civilians had been confirmed as of midnight Sunday. The rights office uses strict methodology and only reports casualties it has confirmed.
It says it believes the real figures are considerably higher, “especially in government-controlled territory and especially in recent days.” Fighting has delayed its receipt of information and many reports still need to be corroborated.
Ukrainian officials have presented far higher numbers.
Germany Exempts Russian Energy Deliveries From Sanctions
BERLIN — German Chancellor Olaf Scholz is making clear that he stands by exempting Russian energy deliveries from an increasing raft of sanctions against Russia.
Scholz said in a statement on Monday emphasizing Germany’s support for tough measures against Russia that Europe has deliberately exempted energy deliveries.
He added: “Europe’s supply with energy for heating, for mobility, power supply and for industry cannot at the moment be secured otherwise.” That, he said, is of “essential significance” for people’s daily lives.
The chancellor added that Germany has been working with its partners in the European Union and beyond for months to “develop alternatives to Russian energy.” But he said that that can’t be done overnight, “so it is a conscious decision on our part” to allow companies to continue their involvement with Russian energy supplies.
On Sunday, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said that the U.S. and its allies are having a “very active discussion” about banning the import of Russian oil and natural gas.
Poland Won’t Support Ukraine With Fighter Jets
WARSAW, Poland — Polish government officials on Monday said that Poland has not, and will not, send its fighter jets to Ukraine to support Ukraine’s defense against Russia.
A deputy foreign minister, Marcin Przydacz, said in an interview on Radio Zet that “we will not open our airports and Polish planes will not fight over Ukraine. … Polish planes will not fight over Ukraine.”
But separately the government spokesman, Piotr Mueller, indicated a final decision had not been made. He said that a decision on whether to send fighter jets presents risks and is a “very delicate matter.”
The comments come after Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy begged the United States to help Kyiv get more warplanes to fight Russia’s invasion and retain control of its airspace.
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Washington was looking at a proposal under which Poland would supply Kyiv with Soviet-era fighters and in turn receive American F-16s to make up for their loss.
Poland has been less than enthusiastic about the idea, at least publicly, largely because Russia has warned that supporting Ukraine’s air force would be seen in Moscow as participating in the conflict and could create a risk of retaliation.
Catholic Cardinals Will Visit Refugees
VATICAN CITY — The Vatican says two cardinals dispatched by Pope Francis to promote peace will visit refugee centers in Poland and Hungary before going to war-ravaged Ukraine.
In the first details of the mission announced by Pope Francis on Sunday, the Vatican said Monday that both prelates will press the pontiff’s oft-repeated cry that war is folly.
Cardinal Michael Czerny will arrive in Hungary on Tuesday. There, he will “raise concern that African and Asian residents in Ukraine, also suffering fear and displacement, be allowed to seek refuge without discrimination.”
Czerny also will highlight “the sad similarity between the Ukrainians’ sufferings and the protracted conflicts that no longer attract the world’s attention,” the Vatican said, citing the pope’s frequent denunciation of suffering in wars in Yemen, Syria and Ethiopia.
Cardinal Konrad Krajewski, a Pole, traveled to the Polish-Ukrainian border on Monday, where he will initially meet with refugees and volunteers in shelters and homes.
Ukraine Rejects Evacuations to Russia, Belarus
LVIV, Ukraine — A senior Ukrainian official on Monday rejected a Russian proposal to evacuate civilians from besieged Ukraine to Russia and Belarus.
“This is an unacceptable option for opening humanitarian corridors,” Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Irina Vereshchuk said at a briefing.
According to the Russian proposal, the only options for civilians fleeing Kyiv and its suburbs would be to go to Gomel in neighboring Belarus. Civilians in Kharkiv and Sumy in eastern Ukraine would have to flee to the Russian city of Belgorod.
Belarus is a key ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin and served as a launching ground for the invasion.
The Ukrainian government is proposing eight humanitarian corridors, including from the southern port of Mariupol, that would allow civilians to travel to the western regions of Ukraine, where there is no Russian shelling.